A new lab in Queensland is using artificial intelligence (AI) to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems – beginning with COVID-19.
Queensland AI Hub, a $5.5 million dollar venture between the state government, universities and private firms, aims to attract some of the finest technological minds to the state.
Part of the Queensland Government’s $755 million Advance Queensland initiative, it will be managed by the founders of AI Consortium, which is made up of business technology specialists including Max Kelsen, IntelliHQ, KJR, 9 Points and AiKademi.
KPMG, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland (UQ) are also on board as founding partners.
Dr Jessica Gallagher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship at UQ said the hub would help develop local talent and attract world-leaders in AI.
“The hub is a crucial step in raising the visibility of Queensland as a national and international leader in the AI space,” she said.
“It will bring together the talent that sits within our Queensland universities, industry and government to look at developing a wide range of programs, from training to community outreach, encouraging innovation and new technology development to support the various sectors.”
Gallagher added that UQ, in collaboration with AI Consortium and the other founding partners, would participate in outreach events, demo days and hackathons and provide platforms to connect experts in the space with people across the community.
Planning for a pandemic
The hub has a mission to foster four key initiatives: build on the existing AI community; develop local AI talent; provide a launch pad for AI startups by connecting them with end-user industries; and assist local industry, corporates and government organisations to better understand and engage with AI technologies. However, its first job will be joining the fight against COVID-19.
Dr Kelvin Ross, from AI Consortium, said he believes AI can play a critical role in detecting and managing the coronavirus.
“Technology could be used to help screen and monitor disease progression and recommend personalised treatments, which could save lives and health costs,” he said.
Examples of putting AI to work include mining medical literature for diagnostics and treatments, modelling the molecular structure of drugs and vaccines and helping hospitals with planning for this and future pandemics.
Queensland Minister for Innovation Kate Jones said the state had to address its shortage of talent in the AI field.
“We’re working hard to upskill workers to embrace this technology, which is changing the way we do business,” she said.
“We have up to eight-times more AI jobs in the state than people with the right skills available to fill them.”
The AI Hub is located in The Precinct, an innovation space that brings together startups, investors and mentors in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.