Featured News BESIX Watpac to build JCU’s Technology Innovation Complex

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Tue, 23 Feb 2021

BESIX Watpac to build JCU’s Technology Innovation Complex

Artist's impression of the exterior of the Technology Innovation Complex
Artist's impression of the Technology Innovation Complex (image sourced from Kirk Architects with i4 Architecture and Charles Wright Architects)

Construction of the landmark Technology Innovation Complex (TIC) will start next month, with the University announcing BESIX Watpac will build the $94m project on JCU’s Bebegu Yumba (Townsville) campus.

Queensland-headquartered BESIX Watpac has won a competitive tender process to build the TIC. Watpac has been in Townsville for more than 20 years, with local building projects including key JCU facilities, the Townsville stadium and Sun Metals’ Zinc Refinery expansion.

The four-storey, 9,400m2 TIC will be the centrepiece of an innovation hub in which undergraduate and postgraduate engineering and IT students, industry partners and researchers will converge and collaborate.

It will be located on Mount Stuart Street, adjacent to the new Student Accommodation, which is also under construction. The Ideas Market will form part of this development and will be a central hub and meeting place bringing together students, staff and the wider community, connecting the TIC and Student Accommodation to the Central Plaza.

It’s expected the project will create about 300 construction jobs and more than 500 other jobs, with at least 80% of subcontractors and suppliers locally sourced.

Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the Technology Innovation Complex

will bring together industry and research, linking innovation with specialised skills and expertise.

“The TIC will deliver leading-edge STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) innovation, research and educational facilities for northern Queensland.

“It will be the focal point of an innovation hub that will transform the Townsville campus, and will seamlessly link with the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns as the ‘combined home’ for JCU innovation and digital transformation activities. We are delighted construction of this exciting project will soon begin,” Prof. Harding said.

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Services and Resources Tricia Brand said the TIC is a crucial element of a bundle of projects that will modernise the campus.

“The TIC - and other projects planned and underway - will transform the Bebegu Yumba campus and provide new and exciting opportunities for our region. The project is part of the wider health and knowledge precinct – TropiQ – which involves JCU, Townsville University Hospital and Townsville City Council,” Ms Brand said.

The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies Professor Marcus Lane said the TIC will provide world-class teaching and research facilities for students in north Queensland across Engineering, IT, Geology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics and Maths.

“The hands-on teaching and learning facilities are situated on the building’s ground floor to ensure visibility of activities, including an active maker space, as well as geology, earth and environmental sciences teaching laboratories.

“The TIC will bring together research and innovation to support business and the community, involving STEM, big data and analytics, information technology and technology transformation. It’s purpose-designed to allow industry to work and collaborate on solving industry relevant problems through co-design and prototyping,” Professor Lane said.

Northern Area Manager and JCU graduate Wade Cummins said BESIX Watpac is a proud Queensland headquartered company with a history of successfully partnering with JCU to deliver top quality facilities within North Queensland.

“The project builds on the company’s strong relationship with the University and BESIX Watpac’s experience in delivering world-class facilities including JCU’s Australian Tropical Science & Innovation Precinct, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine facilities in Townsville, and the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns.

“BESIX Watpac is proud to be delivering this facility for James Cook University and we are excited by the opportunity to be involved in the project, which will contribute to the development of engineering and STEM graduates for generations to come. We look forward to working with local subcontractors and suppliers to deliver an exceptional building for JCU.

“We have also set a target of 6% Indigenous employment on this project, but we are confident we can actually achieve a much higher rate in line with the 11.6% achieved on the Stadium, 12.3% at Sun Metals and 11.7% on the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns,” Mr Cummins said.

The Federal Government has provided a loan of up to $96 million from its Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to develop the TIC.

Site preparations have already begun and construction will begin next month. The TIC is expected to open in Semester One, 2023.

Artist impressions of the TIC, including a fly through video of the building, can be found below (images sourced from Kirk Architects with i4 Architecture and Charles Wright Architects):