A traditional Indigenous smoking ceremony and an official sod turning have marked the formal start of construction on James Cook University’s (JCU) remarkable Technology Innovation Complex (TIC) in Queensland.
The four-storey, 9,400 square metre TIC complex will be the centrepiece of an innovation hub at JCU’s Bebegu Yumba campus in Townsville. It will encourage undergraduate and postgraduate engineering and IT students, industry partners and researchers to converge and collaborate when it opens in Semester One, 2023.
JCU Chancellor Bill Tweddell had the honour of turning the first sod and Bindal Elder Uncle Alfred Smallwood performed a traditional smoking ceremony at the site on Wednesday.
The TIC is being delivered by construction company BESIX Watpac. It is expected that the project will create approximately 300 construction jobs and more than 500 indirect jobs, with at least 80 per cent of subcontractors and suppliers locally sourced.
Northern Area Manager and JCU graduate, Wade Cummins, said the project builds on the company’s strong relationship with the University and BESIX Watpac’s experience in delivering world-class facilities including JCU’s Australian Tropical Science & Innovation Precinct, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine facilities in Townsville, and the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns,” Mr Cummins said.
“BESIX Watpac is proud to be delivering this facility for James Cook University and we are excited by the opportunity to be involved in the project, which will contribute to the development of engineering and STEM graduates for generations to come.”
“We have also set a target of 6 per cent Indigenous employment on this project, but we are confident we can actually achieve a much higher rate in line with the 11.6 per cent achieved on the Townsville Stadium, 12.3 per cent at Sun Metals’ Zinc Refinery expansion and 11.7 per cent on the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns,” he said.
The Federal Government committed up to $96 million from its Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to develop the TIC.