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Case studies

A series of northern Queensland investment case studies was presented to delegates at the summit to demonstrate local successes and the value of investing in an innovative and prosperous region.


Cairns Airport Investment – Catalyst for Northern Australia Economic Diversity Cairns

Cairns Airport is one of Australia’s leading regional airports.  It connects the world with tropical north Queensland providing air links to a range of domestic and international locations. 

The $200 million expansion and redevelopment of the airport’s domestic terminal, completed in 2010, involved doubling the floor area and upgrading all services and facilities. 

The project has driven significant growth in passenger numbers and air services as the airport continues to evolve as a key aviation hub in the region. 

Mr Kevin Brown

CEO, North Queensland Airports

Kevin Brown has been the CEO of North Queensland Airports (NQA) Group since 2011. NQA own and operate Cairns and Mackay Airports in Queensland, Australia.

Kevin is also a Board member of the Far North Queensland Region’s economic development body Advance Cairns, the region’s tourism body Tourism Tropical North Queensland and a local organisation specialising in commercialisation support for local entrepreneurs, known as ‘theSpace’.

Prior to joining NQA Kevin spent nine years with British Airport Authority. This included roles as Managing Director of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton Airports as well as Operations Director and various GM Engineering positions across Heathrow, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.

Kevin is a Chartered Electrical Engineer (Engineering Council, London) with 12 years of experience gained in the Electricity Supply Industry.  He is a graduate of both Strathclyde and Robert Gordon universities in Scotland. Kevin is also a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (London), European Engineer (FEANI, Brussels) and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (Sydney).

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Capricorn Resort Yeppoon and the Iwasaki Foundation LTD

Capricorn Resort Yeppoon is one of the major tourist destinations on the Capricorn Coast, attracting domestic and international visitors to the region.

Following completion of the resort, the Iwasaki Foundation was established as a charitable trust to repay the Queensland community for its support during the many years of negotiations that were required to enable construction of the resort. The emphasis of the trust’s activities is supporting the aged, infirm, disabled and needy members of the community.

Mr Yoshitaro Iwasaki


Mr Iwasaki is the CEO of the IWASAKI SANGYO Co. LTD family business with interests in hospitality and public transport in Japan. In Australia, Mr Iwasaki is involved in Capricorn Yeppoon Resort, the largest tourism accommodation operation in Central Queensland.

Mr Iwasaki is also actively involved in a range of industry, business associations, community and charitable activities in Japan. Mr Iwasaki continues to be actively involved in the work of the Iwasaki Foundation LTD  in Queensland providing support to needy members of the Queensland community.

In recognition on his ongoing work with the Capricorn Yeppoon Resort and the Iwasaki Foundation Ltd, Mr Iwasaki was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from the Central Queensland University in 2014.

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Development history of Ensham Mine

The Ensham Resources Mine Expansion Project involved the commencement and subsequent expansion of underground coal mining at the Ensham Mine.

As part of the continuous improvement process, Ensham Underground has implemented innovative mining methods and utilised new technologies to improve safety and efficiencies in the operation, including modified roof support systems and innovative communications technologies.

At the request of the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Ensham is currently participating in the development of a recognised standard for bord and pillar mining that will become the minimum safety standard for this method of mining in Queensland.

Mr Steve Kovac

General Manager, Ensham Mine

Steve completed a Bachelor of Mining Engineering at the University of New South Wales before commencing work for MIM at Oaky Creek Coal Mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin 16 years ago. During that time he has held technical, operational and corporate roles, working across both underground and open cut coal operations. After completing an MBA through the Australian Graduate School of Management in 2009, he has held General Manager positions at coal mines in both New South Wales and Queensland.

Steve has been the General Manager at Ensham mine since mid 2011 and in that time was responsible for transitioning the new underground project into the most productive bord and pillar coal mine in Australia.

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Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) – Agribusiness Investment Platform

Government-owned QIC is a diversified alternatives business specialising in global infrastructure, global real estate, global private equity, global multi-asset and global liquid strategies. As of 30 June 2015, QIC has more than A$70 billion in funds under management.

QIC has developed a scale, operationally focused investment strategy for the Australian food sector. This includes building more effective food supply chains that will be attractive to investors and operators. The Agribusiness Investment Platform invests along the value chain, concentrating on scale and integration. It will invest in both real assets and the operational entities involved in the production and distribution of food and will connect Australian food production to global food demand.

Mr Marcus Simpson


Marcus founded and runs QIC’s Private Equity Program, which consists of A$5.0 billion asset under management invested globally in funds, directly into companies, and opportunistic sales and purchases of private equity portfolios. Prior to founding QIC’s Program in 2005, Marcus was Chief Executive, North America, for Altius Associates Ltd, an independent private equity consultant with approximately $39 billion (as of Q2 2015) under management or advice. Prior to Altius he ran the private equity program for the Virginia Retirement System, a US public pension plan.

Marcus is the current Chairman of the Institutional Investors Roundtable, an international community of large, long‐term institutional investors seeking to collaborate on private market investments.

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Research and innovation

JESI-Journey Management

JESI-Journey Management is an affordable cloud-based journey management software solution that supports organisations to control risks associated with a mobile workforce. JESI-Journey Management incorporates automated reminders and emergency alerts, all from the convenience of mobile and other telecommunication devices. JESI gives everyone peace of mind that if emergency assistance is required, an incident response team would be alerted in a very short period of time.

JESI-Journey Management is a north Queensland tech start-up that launched to the Australian market in March 2014. It has exceeded the ‘normal’ tech start-up parameters by achieving immediate results, securing major Australian companies across multi-national mining companies, utilities, construction, training and most recently, organisations within the social welfare sector.

JESI-Journey Management secured their first USA client in January 2015 and recently established a JESI USA team based in Houston.

Mr Dale Rankine


Dale Rankine has been part of the Australian digital and creative industries for over two decades as a designer, developer, entrepreneur, trainer, evangelist, founder, CEO and mentor. Dale’s deep subject matter knowledge and hands-on experience across mobile, cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms has been central to him assisting numerous start-ups and enterprise companies in the strategy, design, development and launching of new digital experiences and products. 

In 2014, Dale joined venture capital firm Future Now Ventures as a partner and advisor. Future Now invests in early stage and high growth tech ventures from across Australia, Asia and the US, and provides critical hands-on assistance as well as strategic support to its companies. JESI Management Solutions (journey management cloud software) joined the Future Now Ventures portfolio in 2015, with Dale taking on the role of Interim CEO to support the company through their transition to global scale.

Dale's career also includes his own tech start-ups as well as working with various global information technology and telecommunication companies. Dale is also co-founder at (IoT), Cloud Motors (telematics), and is a highly active mentor and advisor at River City Labs Accelerator.

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