Ag on innovation agenda

07 Dec, 2015 10:30 AM
for every dollar the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years

THE Turnbull government’s $1.1 billion new national innovation and science agenda has included an agriculture and regional focus.

The ambitious new program was released today by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne, at CSIRO in Canberra.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Warren Truss said the new innovation agenda included a range of initiatives to benefit industries, businesses and families in rural and regional areas, including program focused on research, education and business growth.

He said importantly, the agenda included initiatives to foster new start-ups, help businesses to grow and prepare young Australians for the opportunities of the future, wherever they might be located.

“We know that for every dollar that the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years,” he said.

“With the global population growing rapidly and arable lands shrinking, Australian farmers and related businesses are uniquely placed to help fill the world’s food basket.

“As in all sectors of the economy, innovation and R&D play a vital role in increasing agricultural productivity and farmer profitability; those benefits flow through the whole of the regional economy and are fundamental to our national prosperity.”

Mr Truss said the Rural R&D for Profit program – an election commitment of the Coalition government - funded R&D projects which a focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies and making research outcomes accessible to primary producers.

He said Australia’s 15 rural research and development corporations were relied upon by industry and government to jointly fund R&D for agricultural industries to improve productivity, sustainability and product quality.

“The Australian government provides about $250 million each year to fund R&D through these corporations,” he said.

“This is in addition to ongoing agricultural research undertaken by other government-funded agencies, including Cooperative Research Centres and the CSIRO, and our universities.

“The new initiatives in the Innovation and Science Agenda build on this existing foundation to further support innovation in regional Australia, such as through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Industry Growth Centres Initiative.”

Mr Truss said there were also new program and support designed to boost innovative activity and help businesses to break into global markets.

“New initiatives will also make it easier than ever to collaborate with universities, research institutions and government,” Mr Truss said.

“Modern digital technologies, so important in the regions for bridging the tyranny of distance, can enable regional, rural and remote Australians to get involved in new industries and job opportunities.

“The Australian government is investing in the industries of the future and emerging opportunities with these new initiatives and regional Australia’s growth and prosperity is front-and-centre in that thinking.”

The government’s statement on the new agenda for farming and rural communities said strong, vibrant, innovative and sustainable rural industries and communities were in Australia’s national interest.

“Farm production in 2013-14 was valued at $51 billion, with agriculture contributing to around 2 per cent of Australia’s GDP and 15 per cent of total Australian merchandise exports,” it said.

“As the mining construction boom moderates and the economy transitions the sector will need to continue to embrace innovation and adapt and grow.

The government said the new strategy would provide seed funding for collaborative science workshops with regional economies on shared challenges, like food and biosecurity.

It will also support Australian business and research consortia to work with their international counterparts.

“The Incubator Support Programme will focus on regions and sectors with high innovation potential such as those identified in a Science and Research Priority,” a statement said.

“Sharpening incentives for university engagement with research end users will ensure their efforts have tangible benefits for the agricultural sector.

“Further funding for regional universities will create more opportunities for our regions.”

Mr Turnbull said the government would invest $1.1 billion via the agenda to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools.

He said it would focus on four priority areas:

  • Culture and capital, to help businesses embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in startups;
  • Collaboration, to increase the level of engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems;
  • Talent and skills, to train Australian students for the jobs of the future and attract the world’s most innovative talent to Australia; and
  • Government as an exemplar, to lead by example in the way Government invests in and uses technology and data to deliver better quality services.
  • For more click here.

    More to come

    Colin Bettles

    Colin Bettles

    is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
    Date: Newest first | Oldest first


    angry australian
    9/12/2015 7:00:54 AM

    Spare me the overschooled and uneducacted BS Nico you're sounding like a 19th century snake oil salesman. If economists knew the question let alone the answer Bernanke and Draghi would pull the Western World out of the mire it's in! Now you're claiming a 3000% return on investment, what are the pros in my super fund doing ? Part of the reason the EU is well in the red and US is running a $18 trillion dollar deficit wouldn't be the subsidization of public science? And when will the world get ANY economic return for the $squillions wasted on climate change research? Is this our rich reward?
    9/12/2015 7:30:35 AM

    Good science needs a well-functioning economy, John C. We disagree about the efficiency of the US economy (space adventures vs failure of medical system) but in principle we are not that far apart. Angry on the other hand seems so threatened by science that he reacts irrationally, refusing to even consider evidence. Ironic that Angry uses a computer, WiFi, Google, modern medicine, perhaps even an aeroplane ... never mind the advancement of human knowledge! For a UK view: deventspggrp/imperialcollege/news summary/news_13-5-2014-12-8-8
    angry australian
    9/12/2015 9:00:42 AM

    Ever sweated over whether a wages cheque for employees would clear the bank Nico? Or worried about meeting a loan payment to the bank because this years sales weren't as strong as you forecast? Science doesn't threaten me, it's just another tool.But when the cost of the tool is greater than the return, then I start to question what I'm paying for. As far as I am concerned subsiding science is no more beneficial to our economy than subsidising the likes of Holden. If we won't subsidise high employment generating jobs like the car trade why should we subsidise science?
    angry australian
    9/12/2015 9:17:21 AM

    Let me add Nico, if anyone is threatened that people are questioning the economic value of SOME OF the "science" being practiced by modern day practitioners it is you. Your stubborn defence of the often indefensible is a constant throughout your posts. But I'm sure you will find some obscure reference on the internet to have another snipe at me!
    9/12/2015 11:21:04 AM

    Angry, I have tried to give you simple objective (not obscure) mainstream references, eg Deloitte Access Economics, and the UK Imperial College Business School. And once again you miss the point. Science is not a consumer product, like Holden, it is the underpinning of modern civilisation. Funding science and education is essential to the continuance of modern civilisation - this is not the same as subsidising a manufacturer or a product. Your rejection of science is rejection of our education-based culture, in favour of what? Voodoo?
    9/12/2015 12:32:27 PM

    Research using compulsorily acquired funding always results in poor allocation of those research dollars. Match it with government dollars and you get distortion of how what that poor allocation of capital is looking for. Eg climate fraud, terrorists and more jobs without a productive purpose. Isn't it pension day today Nico?
    angry australian
    9/12/2015 1:45:47 PM

    How convenient Nico that you brush over my picking out the flaws in your debate i.e. 3000% return on investment, the squandering of taxpayer funds on climate change, Western Government massive defecits etc. Your assertion that "Science is not a consumer product" is astounding,everything has to be paid for. Civilizations have been destroyed by governments living beyond their means, and science is no different whether that is by taxes or some other method is for others to decide. When your assertions match real world reality perhaps then I will consider your arguments valid.
    10/12/2015 9:53:11 AM

    How convenient, Angry, that you brush over the references which I have given you which contain facts and figures supporting the proposition that investment in science brings in good returns. (No-one mentioned 3000%). Your definition of a "consumer product" is clearly very wide, if it includes the science and education on which civil society depends. Your implied views on climate change seem at odds with the scientific evidence. All in all, your professed anger seems to be distorting your perceptions. Perhaps a glass of cold water would help, and a course of wider scientific reading.
    angry australian
    10/12/2015 4:42:22 PM

    Nico I don't trawl through the internet looking for any vague references to support a weak case like I have seen you often do. My definition may be wide but nonetheless accurate, I can also make a distinction between education and schooling.As for that comment on no one mentioned 3000% you are technically correct, but when i learned maths a 30-1 return equated to 3000%, after all you did say "Every analysis by economic professionals like Deloitte says that the return on dollars invested in science is up to 30-1." didn't you? Don't need water or snide comments from you Nico....argument closed!
    11/12/2015 5:42:58 AM

    Perhaps, Angry, you might learn something if you "trawled through the internet", but I saved you the trouble by supplying some precise (not vague) references on the topic of science investment, such as Deloitte (Aust) , the Imperial College Business School (UK), and the Center for American Progress (USA). Instead of producing factual counter arguments against these sources, which you seem to have ignored, you have merely provided abuse. Your prejudice against education is telling.
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