Beijing Genomics Institute is a giant in the life sciences world.Queensland’s innovation agenda has received a boost with one of the world’s largest gene sequencing institutes choosing to map out its Asian-Pacific expansion from Brisbane.

The Beijing Genomics Institute, better known as BGI, started out as China’s representative in the Human Genome Project, before becoming known for its role in decoding the 2003 SARS virus.

From there it moved on to sequencing the genome of an Asian person, mapping out the DNA of a giant panda and working out how the human gut microbiome was built, leading to its reputation as a giant in the life sciences world.

Having decided to expand its operations further, it scouted for an Asian-Pacific headquarters and landed on Queensland, a decision, co-founder and president Jian Wang said in a statement, was down to “the strength of Queensland’s research centre and a ‘visionary’ state government committed to innovation” – which was music to the ears of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

With the state’s traditional industries flagging and Treasury’s coffers rapidly depleting, Labor turned to innovation as its answer to how Queensland could diversify into new and emerging markets, with limited government capital.

Palaszczuk government trade missions have focused on the eco and research sector, with the Premier and her senior ministers, led by Ms Trad, working to build relationships and lure businesses to the Sunshine State.

The government considers BGI, which employs 5000 people worldwide, another win in its battle to establish Queensland as the “innovation state”, with institute representatives having attended its inaugural Advance Queensland Innovation and Investment Summit earlier this year.

The institute will work with Queensland universities and government departments on genomic research projects and has already partnered with the CSIRO, Griffith University and James Cook University, working on millet breeding programs, diseases, biodiversity and marine science projects.

The institute will base itself at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

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