New Queensland AI Hub to focus on COVID-19 crisis

New Queensland AI Hub to focus on COVID-19 crisis article image

Queensland has launched an innovative new centre aimed at building the state’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

The Queensland Government has invested $5.5 million in the new facility with an immediate focus on the use of AI during the COVID-19 crisis.

The new hub will be run by a consortium including the State Government, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), universities and industry leaders.

Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp is looking forward to working with AI startups to be nurtured by the centre’s new managers, AI Consortium.

AI Consortium founders are business technology specialists that already deliver innovative AI programs in Queensland. They include Max Kelsen, IntelliHQ, KJR, 9 Points and AiKademi. Their partners include QUT, University of Queensland and KPMG.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the centre had a “virtual” launch last month which included a webinar on COVID-19 and AI work now in progress.

“The audience included many tech heavy hitters talking about how AI can be integrated into healthcare,” Ms Kemp said.

“Tech experts bear enormous responsibility in these testing times and this webinar will underscore what is at stake and perhaps even crystallise some ideas.”

Expert panel

The panel featured Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, who heads up QUT’s Centre for Data Science, along with the founder of Fast.AI, Mr Jeremy Howard, who has captured worldwide attention with his YouTube presentations on coronavirus.

Other panellists included Dr Brent Richards who is helping steer Queensland’s ICU plans forCOVID-19, Dr Sally Shrapnel, AI lead on COVID-19 international data collection project, and a handful of others from related fields.

AI Consortium’s Dr Kelvin Ross said artificial intelligence could help screen and monitor disease progression, including Covid-19. Dr Ross recommended personalised treatments, which could well save countries billions of dollars in hospital care.

“AI researchers are investigating mechanisms to detect Covid-19, mine medical literature for diagnostics and treatments, model molecular structure of drugs and vaccines, and help with planning within our hospitals.” he said.

“AI is a fast-growing industry, expected to be worth over US$202 billion by 2026. We want a piece of that economic pie.”

Great outcome for QUT

Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz will lead QUT’s efforts to engage a myriad of the university’s AI experts participation in the AI Hub.

“This is a great outcome for QUT and for all of Queensland,” said Professor Kowalkiewicz, who was involved in the planning from the outset. Professor Kowalkiewicz is the founding director of QUT’s Centre for the Digital Economy.

“Now more than ever our digital literacy and understanding for how AI can drive economic growth is pertinent to how Queensland navigates through a post COVID-19 era,” he said.

The Queensland AI Hub is part of a multi-million-dollar expansion of The Precinct, which includes an additional level of the TC Beirne building in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The hub will occupy more than 500 sqm of new floor space.



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