The innovation game – how the Gold Coast’s reputation as a knowledge hub is attracting global conferences

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The Gold Coast's Health & Knowledge Precinct is attracting worldwide interest.

Innovation and collaboration are two words the Gold Coast is becoming increasingly known for. It’s not an overnight phenomenon but the recent success of the Gold Coast in securing three global conferences is testament to the work and investment that has been going on for several years now.

Destination Gold Coast hit the ground running this year securing 146 events for the city’s business events pipeline worth some $200 million between now and 2030 including two international events – the 17th World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) Biennial Congress in 2023 and the 74th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference in 2024.

These two events combined are expected to attract 4,000 delegates from 80 countries.

Marking its first time to Australia in 18 years and the very first time being hosted on the Gold Coast, the 17th WFC Biennial Congress will see 1,000 delegates converge at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre Exhibition and Convention Centre (GCCEC) over four days this October.

The 74th Annual ICA Conference was initially secured in 2020 but the event went virtual due to the global pandemic. Destination Gold Coast’s successful re-bid for the conference will see 3,000 delegates from over 80 countries, including the United States, Germany and Japan, converge on the Gold Coast in June 2024.

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The Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre is hosting the nation’s biggest medical student conference in July.

Destination Gold Coast’s Head of Business Events Selina Sinclair said demand for hosting business events on the Gold Coast has increased significantly over the past 12 months as the city’s reputation for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship continues to expand.

“In addition to our incredible climate, coastal location and sundrenched lifestyle, a significant investment in infrastructure has been made over the past two years which is seeing the Gold Coast’s profile as a business events destination continue to grow,” she said.

“The Gold Coast is attracting scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and creatives of every kind. With companies pouring capital into investment, ideas, entrepreneurship and innovation are flourishing across a wide range of industries.”

One of the main engines driving innovation is the Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct, an internationally recognised hub attracting the best and brightest minds in healthcare innovation and next-generation technologies.

Within this 200ha innovation precinct is Lumina, a 9.5ha commercial cluster dedicated to life sciences, health and technology-related businesses.

Grounding the precinct are two major universities – the world-renowned Griffith University and Gold Coast University Hospital.

It was Griffith University’s leading research labs that attracted US based private medtech company BiVACOR to locate its international office and software, electronic hardware, and blood compatibility research and development capacities at the Gold Coast’s Health & Knowledge Precinct.

BiVACOR is collaborating with Griffith University in its quest to develop the world’s first artificial heart.

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The Gold Coast has secured 146 events between now and 2030 including two major international events.

The Gold Coast has most recently won the world’s formost international conference in the area of neural networks theory, analysis and applications.

The International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) will bring 500 professionals, researchers and academics together at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre for six days to discuss machine learning, computational neuroscience, neuroengineering and more.

“As a leading centre for technology, engineering and science, with our world-class hospitals, three universities, the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge precinct, the Gold Coast attracts valuable business events in these fields,” said Adrienne Readings, GCECC’s General Manager and Chair of Destination Gold Coast.

Sinclair said the IJCNN bid win will further accelerate the city’s reputation for innovation.

“Our success in capturing business events, especially international association conferences, play a vital role in further propelling innovation, professional development and knowledge exchange in their respective sectors and industries while showcasing the appeal of the Gold Coast as a destination of choice to a new, multinational audience,” she said.

Leaders in the city’s health sector are among Destination Gold Coast’s newly relaunched business events ambassador program BE Connected Gold Coast.

Doctor, lawyer, disability advocate, researcher and 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year Dr Dinesh Palipana and Dr Hal Rice, Director Interventional Neuroradiology at Gold Coast University Hospital, Associate Professor at Griffith University School of Medicine, and founding partner of Qscan Group, were among the first to join BE Connected Gold Coast.

Sinclair said the eight ambassadors will showcase the Gold Coast’s changing profile as a hub for innovation.

“Gold Coast’s Australian of the Year, renowned stroke specialist and one of the founding ambassadors from the original program, Dr Hal Rice is a great example of partnering with Destination Gold Coast to not only bring events to our city but through his work is putting the Gold Coast on the world medical stage,” she said.

“Dr Rice has continued to bring international medical conferences to the Gold Coast, generating millions of dollars in economic benefit for the city and is now, through both public and private sector investment, in the final stages of building a world-class training centre for image-guided surgeries right here at the Gold Coast’s $1 billion Health & Knowledge Precinct.”

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(L-R) Amy Doan, Bradyn Chong, Dr Dinesh Palipana, Daniel Barry and Jacqueline Dewirral.

Both Dr Rice and Dr Palipana will speak at the country’s biggest medical student conference, the Australian Medical Students’ Association’s (AMSA) National Convention, being held on the Gold Coast in July.

Both men are also featured in the Gold Coast’s new eBook The Imagination Collective, a collection of stories about the people, the industries and the growing IQ in the city.

“The book is not only a collection of stories about the knowledge, innovation and creativity growing in our city but celebrates many of the Gold Coast’s most famous and beloved destinations,” Sinclair said.

Dr Palipana, whose own spinal cord injury has inspired his hunger for developing new rehabilitation techniques for those affected by major trauma, said he was honoured to be featured alongside so many brilliant minds working or living on the Gold Coast.

“The Imagination Collective is such an apt name for this book because life is all about imagination, it’s about exploring ideas and concepts and this book helps to bring these this to life,” he said.

“The Gold Coast is my home and it has helped to bring my dreams to life. I started medical school here, recovered from a spinal cord injury here, became a doctor here, and now I’m working on spinal cord injury research here.

“There is so much happening in this city and this eBook is shining the light on what we are all about”.