Science and technology key to state’s future

Northern Tasmanian scientists and science fans braved the rain on Saturday to march for investment and stability in Tasmania’s technology sector.

On the second annual worldwide March for Science day, a group of about 20 people gathered for the event in Launceston.

In Tasmania, the science and technology sector used the day to call for more investment and stability, saying that’s what it would take if Tasmania wanted to become the next technology capital.

March for Science celebrates public discovery, distribution and understanding of scientific knowledge as vital to the freedom, success, health and safety of life on Earth.

Our state leads in some aspects of science, such as areas of medical research.

We have the Menzies Institute for Medical Research based in Hobart, and here in the North, we have the Clifford Craig Foundation, based at the Launceston General Hospital. These organisations ensure Tasmania is making a positive contribution to medical science, and potentially to future medicines and procedures. But having the researchers based on our doorstep offers even more of an advantage.

It means the hospital has access to high quality specialists who want to undertake research as well, and it often focuses on medical conditions that are particularly prevalent in the North and North-West.

Some of the Launceston research that's been granted by the Clifford Craig Foundation for 2018, for example, is in the area of heart disease and diabetes. Continued research into prevention and treatments could improve the future health of our state.

But there are areas of science and technology that are lacking. Industry experts said instability in the technology sector was pushing professionals interstate.

Tasmanian Irrigation environment officer Cassandre Tickner-Smith said some science professionals and graduates were looking to the mainland or overseas for more secure and better paid opportunities.

The state government said Tasmania had the highest number of scientists per capita in the nation. However, IT solutions architect Jin-oh Choi said funding was often tied to achieving certain goals, such as publishing multiple research papers a year.

Key stakeholders and the government need to work with the science and technology sector to ensure the state is doing everything it can to attract, retain and support scientists in Tasmania.