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Research and innovation

​​​Australia’s primary industries have a strong tradition of being innovative and adaptive to new challenges. They have proven to be highly efficient and competitive in international markets. The outlook for the Australian primary industries sector is strong, with the world’s demand for food rising, driven by population growth and calls for higher quality and greater variety of food.

Investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries. 

The Australian Government is providing $190.5 million over eight years to 2021–22 for a competitive grants program - Rural R&D for Profit - to deliver cutting-edge technology and applied research, with an emphasis on making the results accessible to Australia’s primary producers.

This new funding is in addition to the current government funding of around $250 million per year for rural research and development corporations.

Government investment (both federal and state/territory) in primary industries’ innovation:

  • recognises that the large number of small producers could not gain an economic return from individual investment in R&D and that farm products are largely uniform and non-rival in nature
  • acknowledges the significant intra- and inter-industry spillovers and regional and rural benefits that accrue from publicly supported R&D
  • addresses important national development and sustainability objectives, such as biosecurity and natural resource management.

Rural research and development corporations (RDCs) are the Australian Government's primary vehicle for funding rural innovation. RDCs are a partnership between the government and industry created to share the funding and strategic direction setting for primary industry R&D, investment in R&D and the subsequent adoption of R&D outputs. The RDCs commission and manage targeted investment in research, innovation, knowledge creation and extension.

While RDC investments service the identified needs of industry, they also address national R&D needs through the Rural Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Priorities.

Through the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework, the Australian Government works with the state and territory governments, the universities and the CSIRO to develop and implement a national approach for  rural research, development and extension (RD&E) in Australia. The Research and Innovation Committee of the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee is charged with looking for improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of rural RD&E, to maximise the contribution of RD&E to primary industries, rural and regional Australia and the wider community. The Committee is made up of representatives from the Australian, state and Northern Territory government departments responsible for primary industries, RDCs, CSIRO and universities.