As Queensland emerges from almost two years of havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic there are many reasons to have optimism for the next decade. Queensland is seen as a safe place to live and to do business with a high quality of life, even during a global crisis. Queensland has a unique opportunity for economic transformation from an economy based on the mining, agricultural and tourism industries to a knowledge-based economy.

Excellence in research and education are cornerstones for the academic sector including universities and medical research institutes. Over the past 20 years, Queensland has invested heavily in high quality research. The next steps need to ensure the ongoing commercialisation of research excellence and early development support so that our burgeoning MedTech industry may thrive. This will ultimately accelerate investment and growth opportunities in Queensland. By 2032, early commercial start-up companies will have been well supported, have developed and completed early phase clinical trials, have secured sustainable funding from investors, and have commenced commercial manufacturing within Queensland.

Currently career pathways for research scientists, particularly at the early-to-mid-career (EMCRs) stage, is treacherous with career progression often hindered by funding limitations. Queensland, and more broadly Australia, needs to urgently address the bottleneck for EMCR’s across all disciplines. Having trained in research excellence such researchers need to see pathways for their future. Ensuring health and medical EMCRs are supported in the development of entrepreneurial skills will support translation of discoveries into novel diagnostics
and therapeutics. Understanding of, and providing training for alternate career pathways will also be crucial to supporting a range of opportunities for career development through skill development for advanced manufacturing. This will ensure highly skilled scientists are locally retained and are able to support Queensland’s MedTech industry.

It is evident, particularly within the highly competitive national health and medical research funding initiatives, that Queensland currently underperforms when compared with other states. The future success of state-wide collaborations between our academic centres is imperative so that we become “partners in success, rather than competitors for success”. Enhanced collaboration and partnership will also support a pipeline of successful research discoveries with an ability to be translated into emerging innovative commercial enterprises and industries within Queensland. The master planning of health and medical precincts, such as the Herston Health, Boggo Road Bioeconomy and Gold Coast Health and Knowledge precincts will support the linking of health services with academic and research institutes and increasingly (and importantly) industry. The mixed-use development of such precincts will provide interdependent support, leveraging from each other’s skills for enhanced outcomes and greater impact on the health of our population. Thus ensuring that the research questions being addressed are relevant to those faced in the clinic through improved connectedness. In turn, Queensland’s funding competitiveness through national funding agencies including the clinically facing Medical Research Futures Fund will be significantly enhanced.

Finally, it is crucial for maintaining a healthy population and the economic prosperity of Queensland that we embrace and address the tough questions about our changing climate, and its impact on the community. Through collaboration and partnerships, and by building on the expertise already in Queensland, we should strive to be world leaders in understanding the impact of climate on health. Importantly, this will solidify Queensland as an attractive destination, for both people and industry.