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Launch of James Cook University Tropical Futures Research Institute

James Cook University's Singapore Campus

27 September 2018

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I am thrilled to be able to join the Good Science = Great Business program here in Singapore in my role as Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

The September festival really has been a celebration of the very best of science, innovation and business nurtured through the Australia-Singapore partnership.

And I note JCU’s significant sponsorship and in-kind support of the festival.

Not only have Australia’s top scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and business leaders demonstrated our significant innovation and science capability, they have shown us the extraordinary opportunities and potential of working across sectors, nations and a whole region.

Indeed, that is what this occasion is about, and I’m very pleased to welcome you all here to celebrate the launch of the James Cook University Tropical Futures Research Institute in Singapore and the opening of associated new lab facilities.

JCU reputation

As a Queenslander, though not a James Cook Uni graduate (I did my engineering degree in subtropical Brisbane), I’m immensely proud of JCU’s impressive global rankings and research leadership in addressing the multifaceted challenges of the world’s tropics, relating to:

  • health, medicine and biosecurity,
  • conserving ecosystems,
  • the impacts of climate change,
  • and more broadly, the industries, economies, people
  • and societies of the tropics.

In earning its reputation for excellence and innovative approaches in these areas, JCU is known for its:

  • strong engagement with industry and government,
  • competitive commercialisation of research,
  • and academic partnerships.

JCU and Singapore

And this is evident too as JCU extended its reach into the Asia Pacific region, and 15 years ago set up its first international campus here in Singapore.

Now, in 2018, the opening of the Tropical Futures Research Institute is a natural progression of JCU’s footprint.

As the first ever research institute established by an Australian university in Singapore, JCU is:

  • leveraging off its research capability and strengths in
  • science, health and social sciences,
  • and adding substantial value to the research ecosystem
  • of Singapore and the ASEAN region.

Importantly, as the Institute’s first focus, JCU’s renowned capacity for high-quality and industry-linked research and training in tropical aquaculture will be applied to the sustainable production of aquaculture species.

With the rising demand for sustainably farmed seafood, this will further strengthen JCU’s science and technology know-how in this fast-growing industry and affirm its position as a leader in the region.

JCU and Northern Australia Development Agenda

Given JCU’s strategic location in northern Queensland, and its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics rainforests, and rural, remote and Indigenous communities, JCU has a vital role in the Australian Government’s efforts to promote the sustainable development of northern Australia.

As a result of the 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the Government is:

  • boosting tropical research, and supporting other
  • innovative research projects,
  • fostering commercialisation and export opportunities,
  • and strengthening economic and cultural links with
  • people, partners and investors in the growing
  • economies of ASEAN and APEC.

The Government also recognises that to develop the north, we need to build our research and innovation skills.

JCU’s Tropical Futures Research Institute in Singapore is an exemplar of this overall undertaking and ambition.

I should note too that the Government’s Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia—funded over ten years—is supporting industry to address local challenges through research partnerships, while also helping to increase productivity and competitiveness.

Given the three target areas of agriculture and food, health service and delivery, and Traditional Owner-led business development, the Cooperative Research Centre is well placed to partner with JCU and its research projects.


Ladies and gentlemen, universities have a unique role and capacity to network their intellectual capital and apply it to tackling big challenges.

Australia understands that many of the challenges faced by countries in this region are shared across borders and need a shared solution.

And we know the best solutions, and the best innovations, come from our research and industry sectors working together.

I’ve often said, science needs business, business needs science, and Australia needs both.

Well, I say now, Australia and the Asia Pacific region need both.

My congratulations to the leaders of James Cook University for pursuing this vision with purpose and pragmatism, and now opening the doors of the Tropical Futures Research Institute.

Thank you.