Regional and rural Australia to reap benefits of innovation


A more innovative Australia will improve the wellbeing and quality of life of Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas.

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss said the Australian Government’s new National Innovation and Science Agenda will change the way Australians work together to shape the future.

“Agriculture, small businesses and our regional economies are, and will remain, the engine room of our national economy under the new Agenda,” Mr Truss said.

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

“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.

“Our Innovation and Science Agenda includes a range of initiatives that will benefit industries, businesses and families in rural and regional areas, including programmes focused on research, education and business growth.

“Innovation is everyone’s business in the 21st Century – from our small towns to local regions through to our cities, and that goes for big and small businesses, alike.

“Not only will it help economically to connect to a world ever-hungry to the reliable supply of high quality products and resources Australia is renowned for, but it is essential to improving the wellbeing and quality of life of Australians in regions and in rural and remote areas.

“Importantly, the National Innovation and Science Agenda includes 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.

“The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds R&D projects which focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies and making research outcomes accessible to primary producers.

“Australia’s 15 rural research and development corporations are 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.

“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.

“For example, the CSIRO and partners saw an opportunity to further improve Australian seafood, boost the aquaculture industry and deliver improved, high quality products to consumers.

“This industry collaboration saw an increase in the Australian farmed prawn industry’s production from 5,000 tonnes up to 12,500 tonnes per annum. The industry’s value will increase by $120 million per annum by 2020.

“There are also new programmes 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.

“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.”

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