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Food and agriculture precinct builds on Australia's strengths

5 December 2014

Australia has a new hub of scientific expertise in one of the nation’s areas of competitive strengths, as Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today launched the National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct (NAESP) at CSIRO’s redeveloped $200 million Black Mountain site in Canberra.

The Australian National University (ANU) and CSIRO will join forces in the new collaborative precinct to help build a sustainable future for the environment, agriculture and global food supplies.

Mr Macfarlane said the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) will provide $18 million for the precinct from the SIEF Research Infrastructure Program.

The NAESP will bring together the best researchers from CSIRO and ANU to foster research and innovation essential to food security, in the context of global population growth and manage issues such as sustainable land management and climate change.

“Australia produces world-class scientific research and innovation, but we must boost our success in translating this research into practical applications, such as addressing the challenges researchers at the NAESP will focus on,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Creating stronger relationships between science and industry and boosting the rate of collaboration between business and research will be essential to maximise our productivity and economic growth in the decades ahead.

“The Australian Government’s recently released Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda has outlined a suite of strategies to enhance Australia’s international competitiveness and to encourage jobs growth and product development in areas in where we have a competitive strength, including food and agribusiness.

“The National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct will encourage further collaboration in this area of strength and will be an important part of the economy-wide action to ensure Australia is ready to compete globally, particularly in the Asian region, where demand for food is growing rapidly.

“CSIRO’s Black Mountain centre is the ideal home for this precinct.  The $200 million redevelopment is bringing together CSIRO’s ACT researchers and staff in state-of-the art science facilities that will foster collaborative research and practical applications.”

“The new precinct brings together the world-class blue-sky research at ANU with the research, practical skills and industrial know-how of CSIRO to transform agriculture,” said CSIRO Board Chair Simon McKeon.

As part of the NAESP, ANU and CSIRO will set up a new Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics, to underpin research projects in transformational agriculture.

“The collaboration will transform the way agricultural and environmental research and innovation is conducted in Australia,” said ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO.

“NAESP will become a one-stop shop for integrated plant breeding and natural resource management, which will also create opportunities for new biologically-based industries.”

The funding will be used to help upgrade facilities at CSIRO’s Black Mountain site in Canberra, adjacent to the ANU, and to enable access to supercomputing systems at the National Computational Infrastructure facility.

The NAESP will also include a new automated greenhouse system and state-of-the-art crop analysis equipment.

“The improvements to facilities will complement the breadth of skills available at these two leading research institutions, and will attract the best scientific brains to the precinct,” Mr McKeon said.

Media contacts:
Mr Macfarlane's office: 02 6277 7070
CSIRO:  CSIRO Agriculture, Food and Health: 02 6246 5333
ANU: Media Hotline: 02 6125 7979