May Director’s message

The State of Israel celebrated 75 years of independence in May this year. To mark the occasion, a celebration was held at the National Arboretum in Canberra, attended by national leaders from both sides of politics. With the Chair of CEAT’s Governance Committee, Victoria Taylor, it was my pleasure to attend the event. In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles looked back at historical events and initiatives that linked Australia and Israel. He also highlighted how Australia has much to learn from Israel, particularly on how to create a dynamic innovation ecosystem capable of generating start-ups in a range of high-tech, high-value industries. Indeed, during CEAT’s early days I was repeatedly told by industry friends that I should look to Israel for examples of how Australia could foster a more dynamic innovation ecosystem, particularly in the areas of agri-technology and food security. Through our close collaboration with the Wagga-based Bridge Hub initiative, CEAT was able to connect with Israeli partners (e.g. Oded Distel, CEO at Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions) when hosting our H2O Hack events in 2020 and 2021. And yet, despite both countries sharing similar environmental challenges (including heat, drought and salinity), there seem to be relatively few collaborative agri-food R&D projects connecting our two nations. 

Noting the above, a delegation from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) – led by their President, Professor Asher Cohen – visited ANU late in 2022. The visit led to a commitment between ANU and HUJI to continue discussions on how to develop collaborative research projects in areas where there was benefit in the two institutions working together; agri-technology was highlighted as being one area with potential. Following on from that visit, CEAT has recently been working with the Israeli Embassy in Canberra and Israel Trade Commission in Sydney to explore areas where ANU might be able to develop deeper ties with Israeli researchers and businesses. As part of this process, we have had promising discussions with a range of people involved in agricultural and agri-food R&D in Israel, and continue to develop a very promising relationship with HUJI. We’ve already identified specific areas where working together, ANU and HUJI could achieve outcomes that neither institution could achieve alone. 

However, there is just one small issue: funding. For Australian and Israeli researchers to collaborate on projects addressing complex agri-food challenges, resources are needed. But at the moment, there are very few sources of funding designed to bring researchers together from the two nations. To address this issue, CEAT will work with our network to identify funding for innovative R&D projects that address key agri-food challenges. My hope is that by 2024, the resourcing issue will have been addressed and meaningful projects will have commenced (in areas such as alternative proteins, heat tolerance and drought responses) that bring together researchers from our two countries. 

Finally, as mentioned last month, the extension of our Hub space is now complete. If you have a business with an agri-food focus that would benefit from unique access to ANU researchers and infrastructure to support your R&D and growth, please get in touch with the CEAT team at [email protected]. We would also welcome interest from businesses headquartered outside Australia with an interest in being based at ANU, in our nation’s capital.



Back to News