Health and Knowledge Precinct to transform the city

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New research reveals just how much of an impact the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP) will have on the city.

Ernst & Young has revealed the 200-hectare site will inject $2.9 billion into the local economy, while having the capacity to employ up to 26,000 people.

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate calls it a game-changer for the Gold Coast.

“It will change the economic focus of the city to where the jobs of the future will be in health and technology,” says Tate.

The site currently employs close to 10,000 people and caters to around 20,000 students.

Meanwhile, Griffith University Deputy Vice Chancellor Ned Pankhurst sees a “perfect storm” of innovation ahead.

“We have a truly wonderful opportunity to lead innovation and high-technology industries for Australia and the world,” says Pankhurst.

For investors, the fundamentals also stack up – the GCHKP represents a smart investment in Australia’s fastest growing major city, with a stable, diversifying economy, competitive taxes, skilled workforce and an unparralleled climate and lifestyle.

A cure for malaria could well come from the Precinct, with the Institute for Glycomic’s vaccine candidate currently in second-stage human clinical trials.

Meanwhile, a lucrative partnership with a Chinese pharmaceutical company is taking the Institute’s Strep A bacteria vaccine to human clinical trials. There is potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives and generate global sales of over $1 billion annually once fully commercialised.

From additive manufacturing, to bio-technology, medical imaging and devices, preventative health, sports science, child health and the development of exciting new high-tech materials, the GCHKP will leverage existing world-class expertise, creating an ideal location for global technology companies to drive innovation.

Then there’s the $5 billion worth of infrastructure that supports the Precinct. This includes the $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) – one of Australia’s newest and most advanced facilities.

Healthscope’s Gold Coast Private also sits next door and is a $232 million state-of-the art hospital, opened in 2016. It is already undergoing a $50 million expansion to almost double operating theatres.

Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, the fastest-growing university campus in the nation, has also seen close to $500 million invested in it over the last decade. There are further expansions to come, including the proposed Advanced Design & Manufacturing facility that will merge 3D printing and design, advanced materials and medical technology.

Transport infrastructure in the form of Light Rail stages one and two and almost $120 million in nearby road upgrades also provides the Precinct with excellent access to the Gold Coast CBD and Surfers Paradise, as well as two international airports.

Meanwhile, the Athlete’s Village which is undergoing development will transform post-Games into a $550 million mixed-used master planned community.

It will feature 1252 residences, retail and dining, seven hectares of parklands and over nine hectares of greenfield land for health and innovation investment – a vibrant community to live, work and learn.

Village developer Grocon has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star – Communities Rating, representing ‘world leadership’ in the design and delivery of sustainable communities, while smart sensor technology throughout the Precinct will further promote both green credentials and connectivity.

The GCHKP’s development is being driven by a partnership between the State Government, City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Health and Griffith University, with a jointly-funded project office facilitating investment attraction and infrastructure coordination.

Project Director Di Dixon says the Precinct represents a combination of expertise, infrastructure, land and lifestyle that is unique in Australia.

“The 9.5 hectares is prime greenfield land with all the advantages of being in an existing precinct,” says Dixon.

“There are exciting commercial opportunities to link with researchers at Griffith University, which is in the top 3 per cent of universities worldwide, as well as Gold Coast Health as a leading health and medical training provider in Australia, and we’re also facilitating supply-chain opportunities.”

Biomechanical scientist Professor David Lloyd already has a global network stretching from Europe to Stanford in the US and around Australasia, supporting cutting-edge work in developing what he calls the ‘personalised digital human’.

His expertise combines biomechanical testing with sophisticated radiography imagery to create accurate models of functioning limbs in order to personalise training through wearable technology, prevent injury, support rehabilitation and model orthopaedic surgery.

“Basically we utilise our laboratory research at the individual level – and now even the cellular level – together with population data, to morph the model to suit you”, explains Lloyd

“We’re capable of doing many high-tech things in Australia and I’m passionate about that technology development and using it to help people.”

Neurovascular interventional radiologist Dr Hal Rice, who with colleague Dr Leticia de Villiers routinely performs non-invasive, life-saving stroke and brain aneurysm surgery, is highly regarded internationally.

The pair has attracted peers from around the world, hosting 1200 experts in 2015 for their profession’s peak international conference.

“I believe this technology and technique for treating severe stroke is the single greatest development we’ve witnessed in our field of medicine and the overwhelming success of many recent clinical trials has reinforced the true impact it is having on saving people’s lives,” says Rice.

“The Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct provides our team with unprecedented access to world class collocated research facilities and exceptional biotechnology partnership opportunities.”

Existing experts include 750 health researchers across a diverse range of fields at Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, and more than 200 at the flagship Institute for Glycomics.

The world-leading Institute was established by Professor Mark von Itzstein, co-inventor of the world’s first anti-influenza drug, as one of only six facilities globally in the new science of carbohydrate-based drug discovery. It has secured more than $100 million in research funding as well as commercial partnerships.

“The Institute for Glycomics was established in 2000 and it is very satisfying that we now have a number of our research programs in both pre-clinical and human clinical trials,” says von Itzstein.

“We are particularly delighted that a number of these trials are in collaboration with the Gold Coast University Hospital.”

Lead researcher Professor Michael Good, who in collaboration with colleagues is behind both the Malaria and Strep A breakthroughs, is particularly excited by the Strep A prospect.

“We believe we have a vaccine that protects against all strains of streptococcus,” says Good. “I wouldn’t call it a blockbuster yet, but certainly if things work out as we hope then come back in a few years and ask me.”

Institute General Manager Dr Chris Davis brokered the Chinese Olymvax Biopharmaceuticals deal that grants exclusive Chinese rights, while Griffith retains the remaining lucrative global rights.

He says being located within a health and knowledge precinct that has a strong capacity for clinical trials is a distinct advantage in attracting commercial partners.

“The Chinese vaccine market is emerging as very strong and with Olymvax we can tap into their expertise in regulatory, clinical and also in manufacture, which couples very nicely with our technical discovery and development expertise,” says Davis.

That market is increasingly global, with current targeting by the GCHKP project office of key Commonwealth country markets as part of the GC2018 Trade & Investment Program, and active interest from Chinese investors.

“We have specific investment criteria to ensure we focus on leveraging the niche expertise already in the precinct and there are a range of incentives available,” says Dixon.

“Significant commercial construction can’t commence until the beginning of 2019 when temporary Games infrastructure is cleared.

“Through the proactive work of the Project Office we’re confident we’ll have established investor and business partnerships to drive developments, and the right tenants ready to go.”

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