Planting the seeds for future research success

Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling is pleased to announce that construction is about to commence for a new landmark $255 million Health and Medical Research Building.

Working with a consortium of finance partners led by Tetris Capital, and construction partner Hansen Yuncken, Flinders University will deliver an iconic building located adjacent to the Flinders railway station and right next door to both the Flinders Private Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre.

Professor Stirling says “with the construction ready to start we are marking the occasion by sowing the seeds of our future success in the form of bush medicine plants. These will be nurtured from seedlings, and then planted to create an indigenous garden that will be a cultural focal point of the final development.”

Chancellor Stephen Gerlach AM, Kaurna Elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Flinders Council member Sharon Wilson, Premier Steven Marshall and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling with potted seedlings which will be transferred to an Indigenous garden when construction completes.

Further reinforcing the important relationship with the Kaurna community, the building’s design elements respect and celebrate Rainbow Country, including a colour palette evocative of the vibrant sands of Kaurna Yarta, developed in consultation with Kaurna Senior Elder-in Residence Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien.

Joined by Premier Steven Marshall and key project stakeholders, Professor Stirling is delighted to see the development overcome the uncertainties of COVID-19 to get underway.

“This construction project is the culmination of several years of detailed planning and was put on-hold briefly as the University worked through the impacts of COVID-19.

“I am proud to say that Flinders University has continued to thrive even through these most difficult of circumstances created by the pandemic. We are emerging from the crisis stronger than before with exceptional student outcomes and with our research performance showing exceptionally strong growth. We are already in the top ten universities in the country for health and medical research funding from the NHMRC, and this new facility will further enhance our capacity for life-changing research.

“It’s doubly important as it marks the first development at the heart of what will become Flinders Village, a vibrant health, medical research, education and lifestyle precinct built around the rail station. It leverages State and Commonwealth investments in the Flinders Rail Line. It also demonstrates the value of the State Government’s decision to assist the University to freehold some parcels of our Crown Land. This deal with our private equity partner, Tetris, is possible because of that freehold and is a demonstration of the importance of planning and patience.

“Along with its consortium associates Amber Infrastructure, INPP and National Australia Bank, we’re very pleased to have secured Tetris as our financial partner as their values align with ours, with a demonstrated commitment to social purpose and sustainability.

“Our builders Hansen Yuncken bring not just a strong international reputation for excellence, but a demonstrated commitment to environmentally sensitive construction and a strong track record as supporters of the communities in which they live and work.

“The new 10 storey, 22,000 sqm Health and Medical Research Building will enhance and expand Flinders University’s research capacity as the centrepiece of the surrounding health, teaching and research networks comprising SA’s largest integrated health and education precinct,” he says.

“The facility will become a focus for translation of research into clinical outcomes, along with Indigenous, rural and remote health, and healthy communities.

“Through the delivery of world class research, this building will support improved health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and communities everywhere. It will be known as a place where interesting things happen, where researchers share with their colleagues, their peers, their community and society as a whole,” Professor Stirling says.

“Flinders has an impressive history as a pioneer in integrated health – ours is the first medical school in the nation to be integrated into a public hospital, and we’re at the core of a health and education precinct that includes the state’s busiest hospital, educates the majority of the state’s medical workforce and contributes a substantial proportion of the State’s biomedical research. The future of health and medical research will be right here.

“Flinders University was founded upon a bold, future-focused vision.  The start of our Health and Medical Research Building marks the next momentous step in our journey to become one of the most innovative, creative and vibrant university campuses anywhere in the world,” he says.

More information about the Health and Medical Research Building can be found here: https://www.flinders.edu.au/hmrb

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