Simulation training precinct provides SPARK for region’s future

Date published: 5 October 2020

The region’s COVID-19 recovery taskforce has thrown its support behind calls to establish a simulation training park in Townsville.

The North Queensland Simulation Park, or NQ SPARK, is to be built in Douglas between James Cook University, Townsville University Hospital and Lavarack Barracks.

TaskforceNQ steering committee chairperson and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the centre would link the city’s defence, research and health capabilities with national and international defence industry and research organisations.

“The Townsville City Deal, Defence Strategy and Health and Knowledge Development Strategy all recognise the potential for enhanced collaboration between institutions, industries, and governments to drive job creation and economic growth,” Cr Hill said.

“NQ SPARK will build upon local expertise in simulation-enabled training to develop a simulation park with flexible, multipurpose applications for advanced training, including an experimentation centre for research, development, and human performance studies.

“Several leading national universities and industry partners with expertise in simulation and technology have expressed interest in the project.

“NQ SPARK is on TaskforceNQ’s list of significant projects and we are calling for assistance of $35 million to construct the simulator building.”

Private sector investment of $35 million will fund precinct infrastructure such as tenant facilities.

The project is expected to support around 280 jobs during construction and more than 800 ongoing and indirect jobs.

Townsville City Council strategic Defence advisor, Lieutenant General (Retired) John Caligari, said NQ SPARK would enhance the ADF's ability to collaborate with industry and academia in leading-edge simulation training and research.

"NQ SPARK will offer the ADF, especially forces home-based or mounting operations from Townsville, the opportunity to best prepare the warfighting capability of the ADF for joint operations,” Lt Gen Caligari said.

JCU Connect Business Development Manager Tony Tucker said NQ SPARK would grow the local knowledge economy and industrial skill base within the region.

“James Cook University has a range of key facilities and academic capability areas of high value to Defence which will be open to NQ SPARK and for local, regional and national businesses and universities to collaborate on challenging research and product development,” Mr Tucker said.

“Through NQ SPARK, JCU will leverage our relationships with state and national universities and government departments, the Queensland Defence Science Alliance and the Defence Science and Technology Partnerships agreement, to support Townsville’s inclusion and participation within the national Defence innovation ecosystem.”