Gig Guide: Former Victorian minister to chair MTPConnect

Brandon How

Former Victorian Innovation and Digital Economy minister Jaala Pulford is the new chair of MedTech and pharmaceutical growth centre MTPConnect.

Ms Pulford left her ministerial role at the Victorian state election in November 2022 to “seek new challenges”.

During her two-year tenure, Ms Pulford presided over efforts to establish a local mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in Victoria and the state’s cybersecurity strategy.

She was also Victoria’s first female Minister for Agriculture between December 2014 and December 2018 and Minister for Roads between December 2018 and June 2020.

Incumbent MTPConnect chair Sue MacLeman has served in the role since 2018 and is stepping down from the board, although will serve as an advisor through the initial transition.

Ms MacLeman said she is “delighted to welcome Jaala”, adding that “renewal is important for all organisations”.

Ms Pulford said she would bring experience from her previous work with health and medical research looking to translate and commercialise their breakthroughs.

“I am committed to developing the start-up ecosystem as a generator of future jobs and reflecting on my work with companies like Moderna, I know first-hand the contribution industry makes in growing Australia’s vibrant medical products sector.”

Jaala Pulford

La Trobe University vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar will vacate the role in early January 2024, when his term concludes.

Professor Dewar has led the university for the last 11 years and has overseen a 149 per cent increase in research income during this time, from $41 million in 2012 to $102 million in 2022. He is also the current chair of representative group Universities Australia.

The Australian Research Council’s inaugural chief research officer is Professor Christina Twomey began last month. She was originally appointed as executive director for Humanities and Creative Arts in November 2022. The executive director role will now be filled by Professor Alison Ross.

Professor Twomey was the former head of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University while Professor Ross is academic director (research) (office of the deputy vice-chancellor, research).

An independent review of Western Australia’s university sector is being led by former James Cook University vice-chancellor and president Professor Sandra Harding. Alongside former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretaries Dr Ian Watt and Professor Peter Shergold, the latter of which was also former Western Sydney University Chancellor. The last member of the review panel is Adelaide University executive dean Faculty of Arts, Business, Law, and Economics Professor John Williams.

Former CSIRO director of quantum technologies Professor James Rabeau is the incoming president of US-based quantum technology firm Infleqtion, formerly known as ColdQuanta. The firm received $29 million from the Victorian state government in October 2022 and is establishing a technology centre at Swinburne University.

Professor Rabeau was formerly the deputy director the Sydney Nano Institute at the University of Sydney as well as a principal program manager of quantum computing at Microsoft.

James Rabeau.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) Professor Hongqi Sun will lead an industry partnership between the university, Tianqi Lithium, and other leading chemical engineering researchers “to drive a greener more sustainable future for Australian lithium products”, according to ECU.

CS Energy’s chief executive Andrew Bills has left the Queensland state-owned energy company to become SA Power Networks’ chief executive. Mr Bills was appointed CS Energy chief executive in October 2018 and has more than 20 years of experience in energy and infrastructure.

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research has appointed Professor Benjamin Kile as its new executive director. He most recently served as executive dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide and was formerly head of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University. He is currently on the board of the Australian Genomics Research Facility and the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has appointed Peter Duncan as its new chair, filling the vacancy left by Warren Truss at the end of November 2022. Mr Duncan is currently chair of WaterNSW, deputy chair and commissioner of the NSW Independent Planning Commission and a board member of the Office of Projects Victoria.

Dr Collette Burke, who was the inaugural Victorian Chief Engineer, has also been appointed to the board of the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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