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Government announces $151 million in funding for Cooperative Research Centres focused on food, agtech, and transport

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos has announced funding of $151.5 million to develop four new Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) dealing with food, agtech and transport to fund the development of innovative research and technologies in each sector.

The announcement comes as part of the CRC program’s 18th funding round since its inception in 1990, when it was established as a non-profit focused on pursuing the progression of science across various industries.

To be delivered over 10 years, over $39 million will be contributed to a CRC dealing with High Performance Soils, intended to help evolve farm management processes and solve a number of complex soil management issues.

Seven million dollars will go towards a new CRC for Honey Bee Products to help improve honey production and maintenance techniques.

At the higher end, $50 million over ten years is set towards a Food Agility CRC to fuel digital innovation around the food industry, while $55 million over the same period will go towards the new iMove centre, which will focus on evolving traveltech to help ease traffic flow and fuel emission.

With the government backing, each centre will look to connect researchers, institutions, government and startups working in an industry together to collaborate and tackle each sector’s unique issues.

Helming the Food Agility CRC as one of the lead partners is global professional services company KPMG.

Speaking about the announcement, KPMG Australia’s Head of Management Consulting, Ian Hancock, said that the company is excited to playing an “active role” in growing foodtech innovation.

We believe the Food Agility CRC is at the core of innovation for the industry. Today’s announcement…is a strong signal that food is a major manufacturing sector of the future, and that there is commitment to global advancement through a digital technolgy path,” said Hancock.

KPMG National Internet of Things (IoT) Practice Leader Piers Hogarth-Scott, added that the new CRC aligns itself with the firm’s 2017 focus on evolving foodtech, agtech, and IoT.

“Smart food and fibre is a key focus sector of our Internet of Things practice. Our investment in the Food Agility CRC supports our strategy of helping clients unlock the substantial economic, environmental and social challenges facing the industry in Australia.”

The Food Agility CRC already has a number of projects in the pipeline which harness IoT, including a horticulture initiative which will see researchers using IoT to help improve the shelf life of bagged lettuce by using data to help optimise harvesting, export and on-shelf time.

Other projects include using data to improve food export markets and finance benchmarks.

For partnership in the upcoming projects, a bid consortium led by the Knowledge Economy at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) alongside Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Curtin University has raised over $160 million in commitments to accelerate each proposal.

QUT’s Professor Bronwyn Harch, who will be heading up the Food Agility CRC as Research Director, said the project’s frameworks are designed to improve Australia’s food value chain and help increase the industries commercial value.

“Our research programmes will create digitally-enabled solutions by focusing on hardware, software and liveware. That means addressing the sensor and communication technologies that underpin data across food value chains and transforming poorly designed, utilised and connected data into information and insights for decision making,” said Harch.

“[Also], ensuring the best practices are integrated into the workflows of governments, industry and consumers, and building a capable workforce.”

Source: Good Manya.





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