As many of you know, a key change for CEAT in 2020 was its elevation to the status of an ANU Innovation Institute along with other Institutes such as the 3A Institute, WearOptimo Institute and Institute for Space. ANU Innovation Institutes are entities whose role is to harness the full intellectual capacity of the University to address the complex challenges facing industry and wider society. The fact that they operate across the University’s College structure is a break from business as usual. Traditionally, universities are somewhat siloed entities, with relatively little interaction among the disciplines such as biology/environmental sciences, engineering, social sciences, economics and public policy. This siloing also meant that it was difficult for the University to make the best use of its resources to help address industry/societal challenges. The elevation of CEAT to the status of an ANU Innovation Institute means that the University is now able to harness its interdisciplinary strengths to address the challenges facing modern agriculture.
ANU is not alone in its willingness to use its full intellectual capacity to address the needs of industry and society. Across Australia, there is increasing awareness of the need for the knowledge and infrastructure of universities to address complex, nationally and internally important challenges. An example is an ambitious proposal by the ANU, University of Adelaide and University of Western Australia for a ‘National Mission for Future Crop and Community Resilience’, outlining a strategy to dramatically increase productivity growth, climate resilience and environmental sustainability of broadacre/horticultural crops and managed pastures. Crops are the foundational products that underpin livelihoods of rural communities across Australia. In the absence of significant adaptation to a changing climate, by 2060 crop farmers in many regions will face a drop in productivity of more than 20% below current levels. To address this challenge, the three universities have proposed an ambitious industry-facing research program that would leverage the interdisciplinary strengths of Australia’s universities (both in capital cities and in regional centres), CSIRO, industry, state governments, RDCs and peak bodies. The National Mission document advocates for a $500 million commitment from the Commonwealth over ten years, to be matched by industry and state governments – with an anticipation that it would deliver a ROI to the Australian economy of $12 billion. The proposal is being presented to the Commonwealth/state governments, RDCs and peak in the lead up to Christmas and New Year. If you would like more information on the proposal, please contact the ANU, UA and UWA at the email addresses on the back cover of the document.
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Finally, last Thursday CEAT held its end of year event on Superfloor of the Marie Reay Building in the Kambri Centre at ANU. Over 80 people attended the event, with representatives from ANU, CSIRO, industry, government and other innovation networks attending. The event was an opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to CEAT’s programs and events in 2020. Features of the evening were the fantastic Acknowledgement of Country by Duncan Smith from Wiradjuri Echoes, Victoria Taylor’s talk on the importance of using the wider expertise of the ANU and CSIRO to address challenges facing agriculture, and a feature presentation from the CEO and Founder of GoTerra, Olympia Yarger, on how each of us can play an important role in supporting start-up entrepreneurs. In his closing remarks, the ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt talked about how CEAT fits into the University’s wider strategy of industry engagement.
While 2020 has been a challenging year, it has also been a year where CEAT has been able to find new ways of connecting students and researchers with industry – something we look forward to continuing in 2021. For information and updates on CEAT activities, programs and other initiatives in 2021, please subscribe to our newsletter to receive a monthly update directly to your email.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Owen Atkin, Director, CEAT.