Innovative simulation training facility to leverage Townsville’s strengths

Date published: 30 December 2021

A recently completed business case on the proposed North Queensland Simulation Park (NQ Spark) has confirmed that the innovative simulation training facility would deliver considerable economic benefits to the Townsville and Australian economies.

NQ Spark will be northern Australia’s first collaborative industry hub focused on developing defence capability.

The project will bring together the regional science, defence, health and knowledge expertise in Townsville to create an advanced environmental simulation facility and technology-orientated collaborative precinct.

It will be built in Douglas between James Cook University, Townsville University Hospital and Lavarack Barracks.

It will include around 13,400 square metres of commercial industry space and has attracted significant interest from with the government and commercial sectors.

The foundation tenant at the facility will be Cubic Defence Australia, which will establish its Australian headquarters as part of a commitment to use 3400 square metres of space.

NQ Spark is being developed under the TropiQ partnership with support from Townsville City Council, James Cook University, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and Queensland Government.

Acting Townsville Mayor Ann-Maree Greaney said NQ Spark would leverage Townsville’s strengths.

“Townsville is home to Australia’s largest army base, the largest tertiary hospital in northern Australia and a leading university, making it the ideal place to establish a facility like this,” Cr Greaney said.

“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.”

The business case identified that construction of the facility would inject around $255 million into Australia’s economy, with around $170 million of that going directly into the Townsville economy.

NQ Spark is expected to support around 830 full-time-equivalent jobs during construction and a further 740 once operational, and add around $121 million to the gross regional product.

“Council is continuing to lead the development of this important precinct for the benefit of the entire community,” Cr Greaney said.

“Now we have the business case complete, we will be seeking funding under the Townsville City Deal and leveraging the upcoming federal election for funding commitments for the project.

“We have also received strong interest from industry, universities and other government and defence agencies across Australia.

“It is our hope that construction can commence in mid-2022 and have the first stage operational by mid-2024.”

Townsville City Council defence engagement officer, Colonel (Retd) David Burke, said most of the organisations involved in Australia’s defence industry value chain were based around Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

“However, there is a real disconnect between where these organisations are based and the physical environment that the ADF will most likely operate in, being northern Australia and the Indo-Pacific,” Col Burke said.

“NQ Spark will address this disconnect and will provide for the development of test, evaluation, certification and assurance systems needed to provide the Australian Defence Force and others with safe, effective and fit-for-purpose products and systems.”

In a letter of support for the business case, Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions President, Mike Knowles, said NQ Spark would be a game changer for Defence industry activation capability.

“My team looks forward to working with the NQ Spark stakeholder group to develop tech-enabled jobs and grow the professional capability of the veteran workforce in Townsville whilst developing sovereign capabilities in system integration and test and helping to improve the operational readiness of the ADF through projects based at NQ Spark,” Mr Knowles said.