Collaborative innovations to offer transformative outcomes for Australian forestry
A new collaborative entity is set to enable more effective cooperation and coordination of investment in research across Australian agricultural industries.
The goal is to deliver the type of transformational innovation needed to boost productivity and profitability, and achieve a 2030 target of $100 billion in ‘farm gate value’*.
‘Farm gate value’ refers to the market value of Australia’s agricultural product, minus selling costs.
Agricultural Innovation Australia (AIA) is a not‑for‑profit company established to facilitate joint investment in cross‑industry agricultural issues of national significance.
“Australia has a strong history of agricultural innovation. Recent reviews have identified the need to balance solving short-term challenges with targeting transformational and cross-commodity outcomes,” said AIA’s interim Chair, Andrew Ferguson.
AIA founding members comprise Australia’s 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), of which FWPA is one. Membership will be opened to a wider range of public and private entities in the future.
AIA will identify, develop and invest in strategies that address the shared challenges and opportunities of Australia’s various agricultural sectors, to deliver positive outcomes that drive sustainability, productivity and profitability. Consultation with a broad range of stakeholders will be a key component of the strategy development process.
Funding will come from member subscription fees, as well as from public, private, not‑for‑profit and commercial entities interested in delivering agricultural innovation enterprises.
“This initiative has the potential to transform investment in Australian agriculture. As a single point-of-contact for cross-industry strategies, AIA will make it easier for investors to navigate and partner with the Australian agricultural system,” said Ferguson.
Identification and development of AIA strategies will be supported by member subscription fees, while implementation of individual initiatives will be funded through investment from participating partners and members.
“Critical to our success is the ability to adapt funding to suit the needs of investors. An agile, investor‑led approach ensures strategies are attractive to a broad range of investors and partners,” explained Ferguson.
The scope of strategies developed will cover the agriculture, fisheries and forestry value chains, from input supply to production, processing and export.
Potential areas for strategy development include building climate resilience, natural resource management and supply chain traceability.
“This agile investment framework will enable the attraction of resources and large‑scale investment from a range of sources to focus on identified issues of national importance,” said Ferguson.
“For FWPA members and levy payers, and the forestry industry more generally, the benefits of this new kind of initiative will be many and varied,” said FWPA Managing Director, Ric Sinclair.
“RDCs like us will benefit from increased investment, enhanced R&D, and the more effective sharing and leveraging of knowledge, tools and resources that can help us achieve and accelerate transformational outcomes.”
The new body forms a key element of the Australian Government’s National Agricultural Innovation Agenda, which is committed to modernising Australia’s agricultural innovation system.
Members will appoint an independent, skills-based board, for which recruitment has already commenced. The recruitment process that will appoint the corporation’s CEO is also underway.
AIA will be accountable to its members and will provide support to facilitate regular communications and transparent reporting.
*National Farmers’ Federation (2018) ‘2030 Roadmap: Australian agriculture’s plan for a $100 billion industry.’