The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, co-located with the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Adelaide has long since established itself as a preferred destination for Health and Pharma congresses in the Asia Pacific region. The capital of South Australia enjoys this status based on an internal collaboration between stakeholders, a strategic commitment to innovation and research and strong economic clusters in life sciences and biotechnology. HQ Passport interviewed Damien Kitto, CEO of Adelaide Convention Bureau (ACB), on how to attract business events that can really drive the economy of South Australia.
1) Can you please explain to our readers what makes Adelaide the ideal location for life sciences research and one of the go-to-places for medical investment in the country?
Adelaide has already been proven to be an incredibly well-positioned and connected destination for life sciences research and medical investment. This connection comes in two parts: the city’s deliberate design to embrace economic growth through advanced technologies and the collaborative ethos.
In the city centre and just 15 minutes from the airport, we have a dedicated modern space that was developed specifically to deliver the largest cluster of medical and life sciences buildings in the southern hemisphere. Known as Bio Med City, it encompasses the newly built Royal Adelaide Hospital - a state-of-the-art hospital and a centre of innovation - with, as one example, automated robotics delivery of patients’ medication. Next to the hospital is the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), home to more than 600 researchers who work to solve today’s most complex medical questions. Adjacent to SAHMRI are major buildings of two leading universities. These were developed to embrace the future of learning, with a particular focus on innovative ideas and the business community.
2) What was the key to this joint collaboration?
The key to this proximity isn’t just the medical communities being located so closely, but rather the city planners envisaging the value of having the medical community literally next door to the business events community. This connection is as easy as simply crossing the terrace to the recently expanded and upgraded Adelaide Convention Centre.
Proximity is key to collaboration. Bio Med City has achieved this with over 10,000 physicians, clinicians, researchers and students all at walking distance from each other. All staff were employed to focus on collaboration to drive innovation. It is also worth noting that Adelaide has even more on offer than the collaborative Bio Med City. Just 20 minutes south is Tonsley Innovation Park, which is another key example of how business and universities can work together to develop medical solutions within an environment that can assist commercialisation of innovation. Our combination of proximity and willingness to collaborate showcases how Adelaide attracts more and more like-minded individuals.
This supports our business events because we have industry experts available as keynote speakers, it boosts knowledge transfer and most importantly it gives the ACB a connection to recognise the most applicable advanced technologies business events to bring to Adelaide.
Adelaide BioMed City is a hub for health and life sciences.
3) The extent of medical events on Adelaide’s agenda is remarkable, from nursing to pediatrics, disease prevention or pharmaceutic. How do you plan to bid for more and support event planners in the time of COVID-19?
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is going to sadly impact business events for a long time to come and the full impact isn’t yet known. As international travel shut down for business event delegates and very little interstate travel, we believe business events that are not local cannot regenerate here until well into 2021.
We are supporting our members strongly and used the ACB’s convening power to develop Australia’s only state end-to-end SAFE COVID management plan. We are proud of being able to do that for our members – as they can market us as a safe place for delegates to eventually travel to. We are working side by side to ensure they are ready for recovery and understand the requirements of COVID Safe plans.
The ACB’s remit is to assist drive economic recovery. This means focusing on knowledge transfer. Real innovation and real collaboration come from those serendipitous moments that a conference can deliver.
4) Until recently, health and social assistance accounted for about 13% of the state's average annual employment. How crucial is it to maintain a flow of human resources and know-how made possible by meetings and incentives?
Adelaide was really forced into a change in its specialties, away from heavy manufacturing such as cars to advanced technologies such as life sciences research and medical investment and into SPACE and Defence. Adelaide is also constantly rated as having some of the best living conditions in the world with our quality of life, climate, affordability and wide-open spaces really second to none. These are very attractive incentives to relocate here. Quite a few of the Bio Med City staff have migrated to Adelaide after seeing it first as one of our conference delegates.
5) How has your convention bureau deployed the expertise that comes from R&D local institutes, health schools and colleges - such as SAHMRI, the University of Adelaide or the Cancer Research Institute? Finally, do you think the city's investment in the health sector has been successful?
First, we work assiduously and successfully to attract international and interstate business events that ‘fit’ with the technology pillars the state government has concentrated on, such as health. Having the institutions we have, like SAHMRI, represents an enormous marketing advantage for life sciences and medical innovation conferences. It makes delegates keen to commit to coming here. That will restart as soon as we have COVID-19 under control and we have conferences booked or in the bid process out to 2028 now. It should be stated that Adelaide has to date been almost COVID-19 free except for returning travelers who are quarantined. It is indeed everyone’s wish that the amazing work being undertaken by the sector leaves a lasting social legacy. That is what drives the sector.
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