Investment set to flow into health and knowledge precinct
A new health and knowledge precinct in Townsville – TropiQ – has been launched, aimed at establishing the city as an international leader in tropical medicine.
TropiQ will leverage a partnership between James Cook University, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and Townsville City Council to attract domestic and international investment from companies and commercial operators.
It will form a new precinct linking the university and hospital campuses, helping to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world, and securing investment on the back of the expertise and research capability of both JCU and Townsville Hospital.
Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board Chair Tony Mooney said economic modelling showed TropiQ could contribute an extra $1 billion dollars a year to the North Queensland economy by 2035.
“This precinct has the potential to take the delivery of health, education and scientific pursuit in North Queensland to a new level,” he said.
“The Health Service, James Cook University and Townsville City Council have taken a collaborative approach to advance Townsville as a medical, education and research centre.
“By 2035, this precinct will inject an extra $400 million in wages and salaries, deliver 5000 new jobs and generate $4.4 billion to the local economy.”
Mr Mooney said a strong foundation exists in Townsville to make North Queensland an international leader in tropical illness.
“By 2050 more than half the world’s population will live in the tropical zone,” he said.
“Life in the tropics provides unique health challenges that require infrastructure and expertise to overcome and I believe Townsville is perfectly placed to capitalise on the opportunity.
“This precinct has the potential to be a game-changer for the health of people not just in Queensland and in Australia but internationally.”
James Cook University Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said Townsville’s existing expertise in tropical medicine set TropiQ apart for other health and knowledge precincts worldwide.
“We are in a great position to attract investment into TropiQ, building on our international renown as a leader in tropical research and medicine,” she said.
“We are looking at creating a community dedicated to helping the world access, understand and benefit from breakthroughs in health and tropical science.
“By doing so, we will make Townsville an attractive place for students, researchers and clinicians from all over the world as well as attract investment and those looking at business opportunities in this area.”
Mr Mooney said TropiQ had been more than two years in the making with formal agreements for land use and investment in place between JCU and Townsville Hospital.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but the health and knowledge precinct has the potential to provide an investment pipeline worth billions to our local economy through private investment and the creation of jobs,” he said.
“TropiQ will be seeking investment from companies who can leverage our tropical expertise to deliver cutting edge research and development, provide international connections and attract the best clinicians and researchers from around the world.”
Townsville City Council Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said TropiQ was a strong brand that played on Townsville’s location and lifestyle strengths.
“North Queensland is a living laboratory and here in Townsville we have northern Australia’s largest tertiary hospital and an internationally renowned university as neighbours,” she said.
“TropiQ provides us with a focussed marketing tool that combines our efforts to secure the best millennial talent and attract stronger investment in the jobs of the future.”
Mr Mooney said major breakthroughs in tropical medicine were already occurring in Townsville.
“JCU scientists just last month made a major breakthrough in developing a vaccine against malaria, and our pathology laboratory was recognised by the Department of Health as a centre of excellence for diagnosing melioidosis,” he said.
“By introducing a naturally occurring bacteria into mosquitoes in partnership with JCU and Monash University we are on the cusp of eliminating dengue fever from North Queensland.
“With the ongoing uncertainty around the impacts on climate change on human health, particularly in tropical areas, there is a growing need for scientists, researchers and doctors to be able to be at the forefront of tropical medicine.”