Launch of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production

Speech
  • Minister for Education and Training
  • Leader of the House

It is a great pleasure to be back at the Waite Campus of The University of Adelaide, to officially launch the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production.

Acknowledgments   
                                                                                                 
• Professor Aidan Byrne, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council
• Professor Warren Bebbington, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Adelaide
• Professor Vladimir Jiranek, Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production
• Dr Andrew Southcott, the Member for Boothby
• The Hon David Ridgway, Member of the South Australian Legislative Council and  Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Wine

The ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, which we are here to launch today, will play an important role in the future of our wine industry. This project has been a collaborative one, bringing together researchers from this Training Centre, and 12 organisations. What is so great to see is that these partners come from across industry, research institutions and Government.

Many of the collaborating partners involved with this project are here today. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the partners who are collaborating with The University of Adelaide through this new Training Centre.

This centre exemplifies the vital research activity that this Government is funding, and the importance of increasing the links between industry and research institutions.

Australian Government’s commitment to research

In launching this Centre today, I am reminded again of the impressive achievements of our researchers and the critical importance of research infrastructure and facilities to support them in their work.

The importance of developing Australia’s research effort cannot be overstated. That is why the Government is committed to funding research in Australia.

The Australian Government deeply values the need for a robust and thriving research sector that drives the future development of our industries.

This Government has increased the funding going to the Australian Research Council.

The Government has also found a way to fund the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), at a cost of $300 million in a tight fiscal climate. NCRIS faced a funding cliff left by the previous Government. The whole Strategy would have been abandoned. This would have put 1700 highly skilled jobs at risk. NCRIS funds vital research infrastructure like Bioplatforms Australia, which is associated with one of the partners of this Centre, the Australian Wine Research Institute.

Ms Lieke van der Hulst, a PhD student at the Centre for Innovative Wine Production, is looking into the biochemical response of grapevines to smoke exposure. She is aiming to identify the key enzymes which are suspected to cause taint in grapes, which in turn affects wine quality.

This research has been made possible by the NCRIS-funded facility, Bioplatforms Australia. It has the potential to help wine growers across the country, and indeed the world, deal with the ever-present threat of bushfire. It is research like hers - applicable, relevant and practical research - that needs to be produced by Australian research institutions if we are to keep up, and indeed outperform the rest of the world.

Of course the infrastructure is just one side of the equation. It is also vital that Australia is producing the talented researchers who can utilise the infrastructure.  That is why the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the ARC’s Future Fellowships scheme. Again, where there was a funding cliff left by the previous Government, and despite the tight fiscal times, this Government has found a way to ensure that vital research funding is provided.

The ARC will run a round for 50 four-year Future Fellowships which will open in July. When the higher education reforms are passed, it will be possible to have 100 four-year Future Fellowships each year on an ongoing basis.

Innovative Wine Production

This Training Centre has received $2.4 million in Australian Government funding to boost our wine industry under the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Programme.

This Training Centre, under the leadership of its esteemed Director, Professor Vladimir Jiranek, will embark on an extensive research programme that spans the entire product chain.

That is grape-growing, through vintage to the palate.

Professor Jiranek has assembled an exceptional combination of researchers and wine industry experts. This kind of activity - with connections being created between industry and research for the benefit of the nation – is exactly what this Government wants to promote.

The wine industry is vital to the Australian economy, and in particular our local economy in South Australia.

Australia is the fourth largest wine exporting country in the world.

The latest Wine Export Approval Report by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority shows a rise in both volume and value of Australian wine. This renewed interest in Australian wines in international markets has also pushed up prices, with premium wines proving to be the most popular.

South Australia produces the largest portion of Australia’s grape crush at nearly 741,000 tonnes; this is around 42 per cent of Australia’s total grape crush.

The ARC Training Centre we are opening today will assist with developing this industry further. It will provide new knowledge, methods and technologies to tackle challenges currently faced by the wine industry.

In addition, this Training Centre will grow the capability of Australian wine researchers and experts - including by improving the skills of 12 PhD and three postdoctoral researchers.

These researchers will work closely with leading research centres and Australian and international companies from the wine and food sector—they will be groomed to be research leaders of the future.

The University of Adelaide is well placed to host this ARC Training Centre, given the significance of the wine industry to the South Australian economy and, for example, the University’s success with its commercialisation training and mentoring programme ThIncTrain.

Industrial Transformation Research Programme – training centres and research hubs

This centre has been funded out of the Industrial Transformation Research Programme. This programme has two elements. The first is the Industrial Transformation Research Hubs, which encourage R & D projects which could help to solve the problems that Australian industry is facing now. The second is the Industrial Transformation Training Centres, which foster closer relationships between industry and researchers.

The Australian Research Council recently ran a new round of funding under the Industrial Transformation Research Programme and today I would like to officially announce those funding outcomes.

Today I am announcing almost $40 million in new research funding that will continue to forge stronger research and industry connections.

A total of $18.7 million will fund four new Industrial Transformation Research Hubs over the next five years, with research in the areas of sustainable agriculture, in particular legumes; the future fibre industry; offshore floating facilities for oil and gas; and computational particle technology.

A total of $20.9 million will see five new Industrial Transformation Training Centres commence operations. These centres are focused on developing research and training researchers in areas of key national interest. The five centres I am announcing today cover the research areas of mining restoration, forest value, liquefied natural gas, prefabricated housing and fruit fly biosecurity.

Since the inception of this Programme a total of 18 research hubs and 16 training centres – including this one - have received almost $119 million in ARC funding.

The Industrial Transformation Research Programme, funding training centres and research hubs, is one element of the broader, vital work of encouraging deeper ties between industry and research institutions in Australia.

Boosting the commercial returns from research

As I have said, this centre is an example of industry and research institutions working closely together to achieve real, tangible gains. Improving the connections between research institutions and industry is vital if we are to start and grow new industries and to refresh existing industries. To create new jobs, and to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

The Australian research sector is highly productive, internationally connected, and globally recognised. The Government is investing around $9 billion in science, research and innovation this year—a substantial and significant investment.

Australia punches well above its weight in terms of research output, ranking 9th in the OECD. Over the last decade we hammered this point home, increasing our share of the top 1 per cent of research publications.

However, what Australia traditionally hasn’t been particularly good at is translating those research activities into commercial, tangible activities. In 2013, we ranked last out of 33 OECD countries on the proportion of businesses collaborating with research institutions on innovation.

All comparable countries, such as the US and UK, are more effective at translating research activity into commercial activity – and into developments that enhance the lives of people around the world. This is true also of countries in our region like Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, where business and research institutions collaborate much more extensively than in Australia.

The most highly ranked universities in the world typically engage both in high quality ‘blue skies’ or basic research and also in significant applied research, with strong commercialisation outcomes. We all know of the links between Stanford and Silicon Valley, and of the drivers of industry and innovation that emerge from the great universities of Cambridge, Massachusetts. We all know of the Cambridge Science Park in England. I notice that just last week Oxford has announced a new partnership with ISIS Innovation and Oxford Sciences Innovation to work with the university’s academics to commercialise their ideas.

It is experiences such as these we should seek to learn from, and improve on. This will increase the impact of our research across the economy to drive innovation and productivity—to create new jobs and boost Australia’s competitiveness.

Australia’s future competitiveness depends on collaboration across disciplines and sectors, on turning our ideas and research into real goods and services, technologies and life improvements.

We can, and must, do more to increase collaboration and improve the transfer of knowledge.

And Government must help to create the right environment to allow for the connections between industry and research institutions to improve.

However, it is not just for Government. Culture in both universities and industry needs to change. The two must work together much more closely than they do now. And while I acknowledge that shifts of culture can be difficult, the potential outcomes are significant, both for the Australian economy and for human existence could be immeasurable.

Last November in conjunction with the Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane, I released a discussion paper on Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research. This paper sought views from researchers and industry on how better to translate research into commercial outcomes. The feedback from that has been excellent and there will be an announcement shortly with actions arising from it.

On top of this, through 2015, we will continue to consult and work with the research sector and industry to implement measures which enhance collaboration and boost the impact and commercial returns from publicly funded research.

This Strategy is about getting as much value as possible from our research effort to drive innovation in Australia—to help Australian businesses to grow, become self-reliant and thrive, and boost productivity and exports.

Review of the research training system

A highly skilled research workforce is vital to Australia’s future prosperity. Training of researchers in Australia, especially through PhD programmes, needs to be truly world-class. As models of research training evolve around the world, Australia must not be left behind.

We need first-rate researchers ready both for pure and applied research. It has already been clearly identified, through our consultations on Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research, that our research graduates need to be better equipped to work with industry and bring their ideas to market.

To meet these challenges, I am commissioning the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to undertake a review to ensure that Australia’s research training system is truly world-class and capable of underpinning our capacity for learned inquiry, innovation and productivity.

ACOLA brings together the expertise of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

ACOLA will consult throughout the higher education and research communities, and with industry and others, in this important task. The terms of reference are being published today. I hope that everyone here – representing research and industry – will consider contributing your ideas.

Conclusion

Congratulations again to the nine new research hubs and training centres announced today.

Importantly, congratulations to The University of Adelaide and all involved in the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production.

Thank you for inviting me here today to launch this excellent research centre. I look forward to hearing about the many important outcomes you deliver through this important research programme. I would like to officially declare the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production open.

Thank you.

ENDS

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