While official numbers are still being tallied following the Queensland state election over the weekend, it’s confirmed that Minister for Innovation Leeanne Enoch kept her seat in the electorate of Algester.
But whether Ms Enoch will hold innovation portfolio remains unconfirmed until the election results are finalised and – pending the Labor being returned as is widely expected – Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk names her new ministry.
Regardless of whether it is Ms Enoch or someone else, there will be plenty to keep them busy after the Palaszczuk government promised during the re-election crusade that it was going to inject an additional $93 million over the next four years into the existing $420 million Advance Queensland initiative.
Ms Enoch reassured voters that Advance Queensland is part of the state’s long-term strategy.
“The new funding will help us increase momentum during our second term and ensure workers and businesses in our state are given every opportunity to succeed,” said Ms Enoch.
“Advance Queensland is not only having an economic benefit – but is making life better for many Queenslanders.
“This funding is for research that transforms lives – like tackling cancer and heart disease – and helps make our industries stronger, such as more efficient sugar mills and improving access to bauxite reserves.
“We are funding vital new research to deliver greater insight into the health of our iconic Great Barrier Reef.
“And we are preparing our kids for the future – increasing numbers studying critical subjects in maths and science, as well as opening up the possibility of starting their own business.”
Ms Enoch said as part of additional funding, $20 million will be allocated to the Industry Attraction Fund, which helps attract businesses to Queensland, either to relocate or establish new projects in the state.
Another $30 million will be allocated over four years to the Ignite Ideas program that gives startups and small to medium businesses the chance to commercialise their products.
Ms Enoch added there will also be ongoing funding for up to 25 researchers each year to maintain the Research Fellowships Program, and continued support for the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur, which is currently headed up by Queenslander entrepreneur Steve Baxter.
Under the next phase of Advance Queensland, there will also be a large focus on addressing the diversity agenda by introducing new key components including:
- Support to enable female innovators and researchers to maintain career momentum during and after maternity leave
- A Regional Start-up On-ramp Program to encourage regional Queenslanders to take the big step and create their own business
- Pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander innovators to turn their ideas into reality by partnering with universities, TAFE, the education system and the business sector
Ms Enoch said she is constantly impressed with the quality of new ideas, especially in regional Queensland.
“In sectors such as mining and agriculture, we are seeing advancements in drone technology and robotics that are helping to capture valuable data or carry out high-risk tasks in safer and quicker ways,” she said.
“When you consider global population growth estimates over the next 20 years, greater efficiency in agriculture – a sector in which Queensland already has a massive competitive advantage – will not just be an economic imperative, but also a humanitarian one.
“The kinds of investments we are making in AgTech have the potential to deliver Queensland farmers greater crop yields through the use of big data and innovative farming techniques.
“We’re building on our success by mixing technology in traditional industries with the talent of our people.”