Adelaide – the BioMed City

13th Jul, 2016

What’s not to love about Adelaide!

After you recover from the warmth of the friendliness and hospitality and you start to look further into what is going on in the “BioMed City” then it begins to dawn on you what guts they have and what a remarkable investment has been made in bringing life science research to the City, recruiting the worlds best practitioners to design and implement an environment that is changing science, specifically benefiting human well-being, and then ensuring an integrated and effective meetings experience along the curve of the River Torrens, generally known as the “Riverbank Development”.

Jenny Salsbury reports

The Adelaide Convention Bureau (ACB) refer to their home as a city to “be surprised” in and on a recent visit to hear more about the Riverbank Development and the BioMed Science we were certainly not only surprised but also “delighted” and “inspired”, felt “connected” and definitely “supported” by the team – not surprisingly these are the words that weave through the ACB presentations and literature.

BioMed Fam Trip

The well orchestrated “BioMed Fam Trip” brought together 20-30 association executives not only Australia-wide also from Vancouver where one representative was progressing a bid with the Adelaide team. Gathering to meet the visitors and share in the learning experience were 60-70 of the locally based scientists – all active participants in the ACB’s Conventions Adelaide Ambassador Program.

On arrival we headed over to Sean’s Kitchen, world renowned Chef Sean Connolly’s New York Brasserie style restaurant in the Adelaide Casino Complex, part of the SKYCITY Entertainment Group, and a key element of the Festival Plaza development. The Plaza is being upgraded to link the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC), the Festival Theatre together with new commercial, retail and car parking areas to the Riverbank and the Adelaide Oval footbridge by two privately funded developments.

Rightfully proud of these investments Damien Kitto, CEO of the ACB states “Adelaide’s Riverbank precinct is nationally unique in its ease of accessibility and walking distance” going on to also mention the proximity of the city’s two Universities, its cultural boulevard (the State Library, Art Gallery and Musuem) and the premier shopping in Rundle Mall. 

Later in spanking brand new suites at the ACC all was revealed in a detailed presentation by John Hanlon, CEO of Renewal SA, giving an overview to the whole precinct series of developments. There are to be three distinct Precincts with the river running through forming a green livable space around the key facilities: the Adelaide Biomed City Precinct, the Core Entertainment Precinct, and the Education and Cultural Precinct.

A panel discussion followed about the recent “win” for the city of the of the World Fisheries Congress (WFC). Renowned for its seafood and sustainability backed by world class fisheries science and management systems Australia is recognised as one of the international leaders in fisheries science and management. Held every four years the WFC promotes international co-operation in fisheries science, conservation and management.  Expecting around 1,500 delegates this joint Australia-New Zealand bid won the event for Adelaide in the year 2020.

75 Ambassadors

Crucially, the WFC was secured for Adelaide through the State Government’s Adelaide Convention Bid Fund and demonstrates the efficiency of the Conventions Adelaide Ambassador Program. Currently with 75 committed Ambassadors the program draws from SA’s key industry sectors in medicine, science, innovation and commerce who work closely supported by the ACB to not only bring conventions to the city but also to ensure long lasting social and political legacies. 

Nic Mercer, Director of Sales & Marketing at the ACB, emphasised this value and complimented the dedication of the Ambassadors, known as “Gav’s”, who dedicate their time to secure these international events. “It is a big commitment to bring your global industry to your home town” stated Professor Gavin Begg, Bid Leader and the “Gav” in this case. “I found the ACB amazing throughout the whole process, they talked about their Bid Fund and briefed our Board on the benefits. They really did a lot of the hard yards” continued Professor Begg, Research Chief of Aquatic Sciences of the SA Research & Development Institute (SARDI).

Also part of the panel were key ACB strategic partners – Arinex and the All Occasions Group – and the two PCO’s shared with the Ambassadors how they bring financial management to bear by assisting with a pre-bid budget and also, after the bid is won, bringing all event management aspectst together and acting as a general consultant.

The event turned to the matter of Life Science in Adelaide during the lunch at the ACC and the presentations from Alec Gilbert of the ACC and Paul Lambert, Executive Director, new Royal Adelaide Hospital Activation (RAH) which is the biggest construction development in Australia currently.


Moving on over to the SAHMRI (SA Health & Medical Research Institute) in its distinctive “cheesegrater” building, the theme of well-being in the life sciences was continued. Professor Steve Wesselingh, Executive Director, SAHMRI introduced the organisation which has a “Partnership Model” with SA Health, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Flinders University and CSIRO. Opening in 2014 there are 550 people from these “partners” working in SAHMRI. The research ranges from cancer, heart health, healthy mothers, babies and children to nutrition and metabolism, mind and brain, and infection and immunity.

Speaking in detail with Prab Takhar, Director of Molecular Imaging and Therapy Research Unit at SAHMRI I learned about their outreach plans to develop an Asian Training Centre as a satellite of SAHMRI. A leading cancer specialist recruited after a worldwide search Prab commented that “Adelaide is ahead of the game and is on a par with Europe” with its Cyclotron, its Cryogenic facility and other leading edge research infrastructure.

Gabrielle Kelly, Director of Wellbeing and Resilience Centre – part of the Mind and Brain theme at SAHMRI - talked more about their links with Asia and projects with the Happiness Lab in China at the Tsinghua University in Beijing and their theme of “Health, Happiness and Harmony”. They will organise the 5th Australian Positive Psychology and Wellbeing Conference in Adelaide in September this year.

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