Keynote Speakers

The 2016 RUN Regional Futures Conference will offer delegates the opportunity to hear from a number of engaging expert speakers, who will discuss projects and activities relevant to regional Australia and how to build successful regional futures.

Keynote speakers for the 2016 conference will include:

Dr Geoff Garrett AO, Queensland Chief Scientist

Geoff Garrett was appointed Chief Scientist to the State Government of Queensland in January 2011. In this role he is accountable for science policy, providing strategic guidance across a range of government departments, and has also been involved with or led a number of reviews and enquiries covering, inter alia, the science of floods, uranium mining, bat derived horse viruses, underground coal gasification, health and biomedical research and, currently, water quality improvement in the Great Barrier Reef.

As a conference keynote speaker, Dr Garrett will discuss the importance of science in relation to regional Australia and why it is imperative for regional Australia to focus on innovation.


Jack Archer, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute (RAI)

Jack has worked with the Regional Australia Institute since its inception in 2012 and was appointed CEO in July 2015. Jack developed the RAI’s policy and research program as well as major tools including [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reform in water, climate change, Indigenous issues and industry. Originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW, he is now based in Canberra.

As a conference keynote speaker, Mr Archer will provide delegates with a wealth of information related to regional issues.


Kylie Hickling, Director Commercialisation, Queensland Department of Science, Information and Technology

Kylie is currently focused on designing and delivering a number of programs under the Advance Queensland Business Investment and Attraction initiative. She actively supports and encourages collaboration between research, business/industry and government sectors to improve commercialisation rates and start-up formation.

Kylie has also worked in various government roles in education and community services and prior to joining the Queensland Government Kylie worked at Gartner Group Australia.

Kylie will present the report findings, business and innovation insights how the newly established Advance Queensland programs are designed to solve global challenges, seize opportunities in growing markets, attract investment dollars and create the jobs of the future.

Colin Graham, Founder and Managing Director, Causeway Innovation

Colin Graham is the founder of Causeway Innovation and is focused on enabling businesses and regions to prosper through innovation.

His business career started in marketing in London becoming International Product Manager for Dulux before leaving to be the co-founder and CEO of Yellowbrick delivering graduate recruitment and training services for clients such as IBM, Motorola and Deloitte in the UK, Canada and USA.

Colin then joined the Career Innovation Company in Oxford working with global clients, running workshops in Silicon Valley and publishing ‘ePeople, engaging talent in the entrepreneurial age’, the Times newspaper review said: “All CEOs should read it and heed it.”

Colin progressed to supporting startups, establishing an award winning Student Business Incubator and running the MBA Launching New Ventures course at the Robert Gordon University in Scotland before migrating to Australia in 2002 to be the founding CEO of the Innovation Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast, which to date has supported 143 startups, helped them to raise $32m investment and create 580 direct jobs.

After 10 years at the Innovation Centre, Colin left to establish Causeway Innovation working with innovative businesses and regions across Australia.

As a keynote speaker Mr Graham will provide delegates with a unique and practical insight into regional innovation and prosperity.

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Engagement, CQUniversity

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Chair in Indigenous Engagement at CQUniversity. Through these roles she works to strategically advance Indigenous engagement agendas within regional, state, national and international contexts. Prof Fredericks has worked at a range of universities in Australia and New Zealand along with the Qld and Federal governments and Indigenous community controlled organisations. She is the President of CQUniversity’s Academic Board, the elected Chairperson of the Central Queensland and South West Queensland Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation and a lead in the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN). Bronwyn is a strong advocate for all forms of education and training and believes in the power of education as a vehicle for social change. 

Nick Behrens, General Manager Policy and Advocacy, Chamber of Commerce in Industry Queensland (CCIQ)

Nick commenced with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland in September 2007 as State Manager – Policy and in January 2009 was appointed as General Manager - Policy. Nick has two decades of experience in researching issues affecting businesses. Nick is responsible for driving CCIQ’s policy agenda in all areas impacting on the private sector such as taxation, regulatory environment, employment legislation, transport and infrastructure issues.

Nick is a past State Secretary of the National Electrical & Communications Association and is a member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (ACCI) Economic and Fiscal Policy Committee as well as the ACCI General Council. Nick has extensive experience on numerous committees and forums with representation on a number of high-level Government committees appointed by State Government Ministers.

He is recognised for his strong leadership skills and revels in presenting to various audiences. For two years he was additionally a Corporate Ambassador for the Bank of Queensland. Nicks career objective is to provide effective leadership for the business community and to promote and represent the interests of Australian business and to work with Government and other groups to shape the economic and social environments in a way which promotes business growth.

As a keynote speaker, Mr Behrens will discuss the series of Regional Business Priorities Reports developed by CCIQ.

Professor Scott Bowman, Vice-Chancellor & President, CQUniversity Australia

Professor Bowman was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor and President of CQUniversity Australia, in August 2009. In this position, he has led an ambitious program of renewal with the aim to make CQUniversity Australia’s most engaged University. Under his leadership, CQUniversity is now ranked among the top three fastest growing universities in Australia and has also grown to become the largest University based in Regional Australia with more than 30,000 students, 2,500 staff, and 20 delivery sites spread across every mainland Australian state.

Professor Bowman’s leadership has also helped to establish CQUniversity as a renowned research institution in key industries and the benchmark leader for how universities should engage with their communities.  This commitment to engagement and social outreach has led to CQUniversity being recognised as Australia’s first and only Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, an exclusive global social innovation movement made up of only 30 other high profile education institutions across the world.

Professor Bowman is also a member of the Northern Australia Advisory Group and the steering committee for the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Dr Caroline Perkins, Executive Director, Regional Universities Network (RUN)

Caroline is a geologist by training and has a B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a PhD in geology from the University of New England, Australia. She has worked as an exploration geologist in Australia and Fiji and undertook post-doctoral research in geology at the Australian National University. She has 15 years’ experience as a senior public servant working for the Australian Federal Government in higher education, research, science and radioactive waste management policy and programs. In February 2012, she was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Regional Universities Network, a group of six universities with their headquarters in regional Australia, outside capital cities. Since then she has worked to foster advocacy, facilitate collaboration, and enhance the contribution of the member universities to regional development, the nation, and internationally.


Professor Jan Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Chair, Regional Universities Network (RUN)

Professor Jan Thomas is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Southern Queensland.

Before taking up this position in January 2012, Professor Thomas was Deputy Vice Chancellor at Murdoch University from 2003 until 2010 and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Notre Dame Australia from 2010.

Professor Thomas has a PhD in Veterinary Science from Murdoch University and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute for Company Directors. She has received numerous national and international awards for her leadership in education.

Professor Thomas currently holds the position of Chair for the Managing Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. She is also the Chair of the Regional Universities Network. Professor Thomas was appointed Chairperson to the State Library Board of Queensland in March 2014.

She is a strong advocate for the transformative role of education, both as a mechanism for social justice and as a key driver for national productivity and innovation.