HomeArticlesBusiness & InvestHealthThe next big thing – Health and Knowledge Precinct takes shape
|Professor David Lloyd with biomechanical implants testing machine||Professor Huijun Zhao

The next big thing – Health and Knowledge Precinct takes shape

Kathy Kruger | May 2018

The sun has set on the GC2018 Commonwealth Games and the 6,600 athletes and officials have departed the Athletes Village, but the next exciting stage of the Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP) is set to kick into gear.

Already four of 16 development sites are earmarked for development post-Games, while an exciting co-working and incubation space for innovative emerging companies will open in colourful temporary buildings from early next year.

The village will transform into a vibrant residential community with 1252 apartments and town-homes and a retail and dining precinct that will enliven the main streets and help create a 24/7 environment for collaboration, inspiration and recreation. The Athletes Village dining hall is being turned into a supermarket, while the athlete’s accommodation is being reconfigured into a mix of one, two and three bedroom dwellings, set to be available on the rental market from January 2019.

The GCHKP even has a brand new boutique hotel, Mantra at Sharks, offering 120 rooms and a rooftop bar that offers a birds-eye skyline view of the exciting development set to take shape in the already burgeoning Precinct  – the next big thing for the city.

Fast Facts

The 200-hectare Precinct, which is home to Griffith University, ranked in the top 3 percent of universities worldwide, the $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital, and the new Gold Coast Private Hospital, already employs almost 10,000 people, including 1,000 researchers, and boasts almost 20,000 students.

Once fully completed over coming years, the GCHKP will support 26,000 jobs in the city, and generate gross value of $2.9 billion for the city’s economy.

Over nine hectares of greenfield land are available for health and innovation commercial development, offering a total gross floor area (GFA) of 175,000m2, sitting within the 29 hectare priority development area (Parklands PDA), which also includes 7 hectares of parkland. 135,420 trees have been planted in the GCHKP’s green community spaces, while 18 retail and dining outlets will activate the main streets.

The GCHKP boasts two light rail stations and is supported by a total of $5 billion in investment in health, education, ICT and transport infrastructure.

Precinct opportunities include freehold greenfield sites, with the latest in telecommunications connectivity (864 core fibre) for super fast Internet, in flexible lot sizes ranging up to 21,000 GFA, and allowing for building heights of 8-10 storeys; as well as anchor tenancies and research partnerships.

Project Director Di Dixon, who has led the concept of a health and innovation hub in the area since inception, says international investor interest is building, with China a focus for investment missions.

“With four sites earmarked for development, we also have strong interest from international investors for a couple of other sites, with development able to commence from early 2019,” Dixon says.

Exciting projects

From additive manufacturing and developing exciting new high-tech materials, to drug discovery and clinical trials, medical devices and implants, cybersecurity, big data and artificial intelligence, the Precinct will leverage existing world-class expertise to attract investment and talent from around the globe.

Griffith University will develop its $80 million Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute (ADaPT), on a prime site from 2019. The state-of-the-art facility will pioneer new materials and 3D prototyping across medical, marine, aviation, automotive and construction industries.

“ADaPT is likely to have a strong medical focus while also supporting new micro and nano-materials and advanced prototyping across diverse industries,” Ms Dixon says.

The industry-focused facility will drive new manufacturing, with collaborative discussions well-advanced with leading international companies.

From regenerative medicine and customised medical implants created using ‘digital patient’ functional 3D models, to bespoke lightweight components using new nano-materials for aviation and aerospace, ADaPT will be a hub for industry to connect with leading researchers and train in the latest visualisation and additive manufacturing technologies.

Fashion is also being transformed – for example Griffith Industrial Design Senior Lecturer Dr Sam Canning designed the world’s first full-length 3D printed dress, comprising up to 30,000 individual pieces and taking more than 400 painstaking hours to design.

The university has recently opened a state-of-the-art 3D printer precinct, boasting a medical-grade metal printer, as a showcase and engagement facility and a pre-curser to ADaPT.

“The key for the Precinct is to ensure there is an R&D and commercial innovation aspect to the operations of companies we locate here, in order to grow an genuine global reputation in our areas of niche strength.”

Also earmarked for early development is an innovative Child Centre of Excellence, incorporating mainstream and special needs childcare, specialised paediatric services and world-class child development research.

The Precinct is also building a significant reputation for clinical trials and health and medical training.

Talented people

The talent pool within the Precinct is large, global and growing through the introduction of tailored qualifications for a new generation of graduates in specialities of the future – from AI and robotics to advanced biomedical engineering – as an example Griffith University is offering a new engineering major in drone technology, while TAFE Gold Coast is responding to demand for cybersecurity and related technical skills.

Experts who will take the Precinct forward are international leaders in their fields – from Professor Mark von Itzstein, founder and Director of the Institute for Glycomics, who co-invented the world’s first anti-flu drug Relenza and helms an institute that has successfully developed four drug or vaccine technologies to clinical trial stage; to Professor Huijun Zhao, who heads the Griffith Centre for Clean Environment and Energy and is an internationally-renowned nano-chemist with a coveted position in the Chinese Academy of Sciences Top 1000 Talent program. Professor Zhao leads laboratory teams on the Gold Coast and in China developing environmental solutions such as innovative nano-coatings to create smart windows that can regulate room temperature.

The roll-call of leading clinicians is also long, and includes orthopaedic surgeon Professor Randy Bindra, who recently received a $900,000 Medtech grant to develop a regenerative medicine treatment for wrist injuries utilising 3D modelling and printing, in collaboration with Griffith’s Professor David Lloyd, who leads the way in personalised, functional 3D neuro-biomechanical models. Other stars include interventional vascular neuro-radiologist Dr Hal Rice, who with colleague Dr Leticia de Villiers leads in the treatment of stroke and aneurysms, and Dr Lee Yang, a renowned spinal and neurosurgeon who specialises in complex surgeries and the latest keyhole techniques, and is based at Gold Coast Private Hospital.

“We will continue to leverage Precinct experts to attract more talent as innovators seek that world-class collaborative environment, with lifestyle attractiveness, educational quality and choice, and relative residential affordability also big drawcards for top global talent who can choose where they want to live and work,” says Dixon, who herself moved from the UK to take up the Gold Coast opportunity.

“Our project office is working with the State Government on behalf of our partners City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Health and Griffith University to create those bridges to companies and investors and coordinate attractive incentives.”

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