JCU Ideas Lab up and running

James Cook University’s Ideas Lab is up and running, with staff, students and start-ups now enjoying the brand new, innovative and eco-friendly $30M building.

Cairns Campus Director Dr David Craig said the Ideas Lab brings together JCU staff and students in Internet of Things Engineering and data science, alongside local innovators – individuals and groups for whom ideas mean business.

“This is the home of innovation for Far North Queensland, bringing together JCU researchers and community entrepreneurs in an environment that’s designed to bring our region’s best ideas to life,” Dr Craig said.

The JCU Ideas Lab was funded by the State and Federal governments, and JCU, with each contributing $10M.

Project Manager Rachel Argent said features of the building include the northern green vine wall, innovation and community spaces wrapping around a three-storey atrium, a floating internal staircase connecting the verandah meeting areas, and a membrane around the building which allows for external projection of images and videos.

“We intend to showcase JCU and the innovation communities’ research and teaching on these external walls, hopefully leading to film screening and community gatherings,” she said.

The building was designed by Wilson Architects with local firm Clarke and Prince, and built by Watpac Construction and local sub-contractors in July 2020 on time and within budget.

The Ideas Lab has been designed to meet the gold standard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), an international green building certification program, which helps operators to be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

“We are still in the LEED process, where we have submitted our design and performance data and are awaiting the results. Typically, this takes six months from building completion,” said Ms Argent.

She said LEED has a detailed criteria and points system that the project and construction teams have worked through.

“This includes design features as well as material selection, product life cycle, waste management on site and recycling. Some of the design features are the northern green vine wall, bioswale that filters the building’s stormwater, and 60kW Solar PV System on the roof that feeds into the building energy requirements.”

Dr Craig said the design maximises collaborative space as well as providing facilities where prototypes can be built and tested.

“If you’ve got an idea or something that could benefit from collaboration with the university, this is the place to be, so contact JCU and we’ll see if we can help you,” he said.

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