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Research partnership to deliver regional benefits

Studies into whether the Sunshine Coast is an ideal place to start a new business and what impacts climate change is having on our coastal areas are among five projects earmarked to receive grants from a new local research funding scheme.

A Collaborative Research Grants scheme has been launched by the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast Council to support innovative research projects that will help shape the region’s future.

Sunshine Coast Council CEO Michael Whittaker said up to $140,000 per financial year, with half each provided by the Council and by USC, would be available under the scheme for applicable research projects during the next three financial years.

“The areas of research that will be undertaken through this agreement are in line with the priorities, goals and outcomes in Council’s Corporate Plan 2014-2019,” he said.

“The first projects will be undertaken to provide evidence based information and advice that will help our region improve its future planning in key areas like environment, entrepreneurship, sustainability and cultural vitality.”

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Roland De Marco welcomed this collaborative approach to funding and conducting important research.

“USC and Sunshine Coast Council have a long history of working together to improve the overall social, economic, environmental and cultural attributes of the region,” he said.
“These grants will fund projects across a broad range of research fields that contribute to innovative local and regional planning and management approaches to some of the challenges and opportunities confronting our region.

“An emphasis on collaboration will not only support our researchers to become active leaders in their fields, but will also promote a positive research culture that translates into improvements in regional, social and economic development.”

Projects to receive funding in the first round of the scheme are:

• Creating sustainable value chains for the Sunshine Coast’s seafood sector;
• Monitoring nearshore and shoreline dynamics using coastal imaging systems to inform programs used to manage risks to key infrastructure;
• Evaluating the performance of indigenous plant species in floating wetland treatment systems;
• Assessing entrepreneurship support programs as a means to stimulate economic development; and
• Measuring the return on investment of local government funded arts, culture and heritage programs on the Sunshine Coast.

These projects will involve accomplished USC academics and Council staff with expertise ranging from marketing, supply chain management, environmental science, geography and geoscience to water quality engineering, entrepreneurship, visual art and tourism.

— Terry Walsh

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