Innovate with us

JCU Ideas Lab_Drone_Dusk

The University’s key priority is to deliver impactful research and transformative education to our region, the Tropics and beyond and seeks to provide innovation and commercialisation opportunities by:

  • Being a catalyst for innovation and connecting our region to the global knowledge
  • Achieving a global outlook while maintaining local relevance
  • Digitally enable the university.

Our aims are to:

  • Develop a JCU culture that supports and understands innovation and the broader innovation ecosystems in Cairns, Townsville and Singapore.
  • Trial Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs for feasibility and viability.
  • Foster internal and external involvement in Innovation @ JCU both virtually and physically.
  • Ensure JCU establishes itself in the eyes of government and the community as a key partner for innovation and commercialisation in the region.

Innovation is driven not just by ideas, but also by collaboration, opportunity and spaces which allow innovation to develop and flourish. Our vision is to building and supporting a vibrant innovation ecosystem, which expands on existing activities and regional innovation initiatives and deepens our relationships with our innovation partners (regionally, nationally and internationally).

James Cook University has Makerspaces on both our Cairns and Townsville campuses. The purpose of these spaces is to facilitate innovation in its varied forms. Each space is different not only in location but also in facilities, environment, and design.

Area 61 - Townsville

The ability to design, create, build and turn innovative ideas into reality is a critical component of any innovation ecosystem. JCU Townsville facilitates this vital stage of innovation through the production, testing, and demonstration of prototypes within Area 61.

At this Makerspace, innovators are able to design and manufacture items that require the combination of design and build skills and resource of software, electronics and advanced manufacturing. Formed from the demand to build unique and technically complex items to directly support research over a period of 30 years, Area 61 has been created to expand and provide this unique capability to cater to the needs of the wider Northern Australian innovation ecosystem.

IoT Lab - Cairns

The NarrowBand Internet of Things (NBIoT) research lab is the first of its kind in Australia and was established at JCU Cairns in 2017. The research facility, consisting of a teaching laboratory and workshops, features world-class technology provided by Huawei. The lab allows students to train using the very latest equipment that conforms to the IoT international standard.

The IoT lab assists IoT students, researchers and innovators in developing projects in a well-equipped space that supports learning and creating. The lab is also purposed to promote strong academic-industry collaboration by being the first NBIoT Lab connected to the nation's first Engineering in Electronic Systems and Internet of Things program. The research and development happening inside of this lab is one-of-a-kind and valued by industry.

The lab facilitates projects like the JCU Mosquito Trap Development project, which aims to design and validate traps that are low cost and sensitive enough for several species of mosquitoes. Other featured projects are more focused on technology, such as the Light Field Video Compression and Streaming project, which aims to propose an interactive 3D VR streaming system based upon the state-of-the-art LF video compression and transmission technology.

JCU Ideas Lab - Cairns

James Cook University’s vision to turbocharge innovation in northern Queensland has taken a big step forward, with the construction of the landmark $30m JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns. The Ideas Lab translates JCU’s teaching and research into innovation that generates jobs and economic growth for Cairns and the broader region. It will lead to the creation of products and processes with real commercial application that can drive economic growth and diversity for northern Australia.

The $30m building is funded by $10m from the Australian Government and $10m from the Queensland Government, with the balance contributed by JCU.

Find out more about the JCU Ideas Lab.

Like any ecosystem, an innovation ecosystem is made up of many integral contributing parts. These participants are key contributors to an active innovation community and provide the underlying support structures through which creativity, ideas and innovation can flourish. The type of key participants within the innovation ecosystem include:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Researchers
  • Universities and other education providers
  • Industry
  • Social Enterprises
  • Investors
  • Government
  • Community

There are many key contributors in JCU's innovation ecosystem. Explore which contributors are connected with each campus of JCU, what the contributors add to the ecosystem, and whether a contributor may be a valuable connection for your project:

There are several programs and subjects available at JCU in which innovation and entrepreneurship are the focus. Through these various methods of learning, an aspiring innovator can develop their sense of how to begin an innovating project.

Learn more about Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs.

Explore the latest innovation opportunities offered across the ecosystem including incubators, accelerator programs and challenges. These opportunities are offered by a range of external stakeholders:

Learn more about Innovation Incubators, Accelerators and Challenges.

There are several incubators and accelerators in the innovation network that can assist your project or idea in reaching its potential. Below are some incubators and accelerators that you can explore to find out if and how a connection with them can propel your project.

Innovation is a key priority for both Federal and State Government with significant investment being directed towards support for entrepreneurial programs, innovation activities and events, and regional hubs.

Find out more about Innovation Resources.

If you are a JCU student or staff member log into the Bright Ideas platform to explore this virtual JCU Innovation Hub.

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Dr Samantha Horseman

HDR Innovation and Industry Lead

Graduate Research


0419 839 907