Research delivery under the microscope

Australia’s biosecurity research framework is undergoing major change as the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC) prepares for its June 2018 wind up.

Vinehealth Australia, which has been a participant of the PBCRC since 2012, is involved in discussions as to the best mechanism to manage and deliver national biosecurity research and innovation for plant industries into the future.

Vinehealth has developed strong networks with researchers in the biosecurity field and has influenced biosecurity research priorities for PBCRC to invest in over its life.

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme was established in 1990 to improve the effectiveness of Australia’s research effort by bringing together researchers in the public and private sectors with the end users. The CRC Programme links researchers with industry and government with a focus towards research application. The wine industry previously had a CRC for Viticulture and The Australian Wine Research Institute has recently announced their partnership with the newly formed Food Agility CRC (http://www.foodagility.com/).

When the term of any CRC ends, under its arrangement with the federal government it must undertake a process to ensure the intellectual property generated through the life of the CRC is managed and allocated accordingly to ensure optimal impact to industries in Australia.  It must also develop a transition plan to ensure that capability and capacity generated through the CRC continues to meet the needs of the relevant industries in Australia.

PBCRC commenced a process early in 2016 to determine how plant biosecurity research will continue in Australia following the end of the PBCRC as it is currently known. In addition to the PBCRC, there are many other entities investing in biosecurity research, including Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), such as Wine Australia.

“The discussion between relevant parties, including PBCRC, RDCs, Plant Health Australia, state and federal government and other interested entities such as Vinehealth, on how best to manage biosecurity research for plant industries in Australia has at times been challenging,” said Inca Pearce, CEO of Vinehealth Australia.

“All recognise the need for continued and increased investment, coordinated cross sectoral initiatives and, importantly, delivery of significant impact for plant industries to ensure they have the capacity and capability to prepare for, prevent and manage an incursion and therefore reduce impact on agricultural entities, communities and the environment.”

Vinehealth has maintained its influence and advocacy with submissions to the recent IGAB review, to the PBCRC consultative process last year and through continuing conversations with key people involved in the current process.

“The discussion as to the best mechanism to manage and deliver national biosecurity research and innovation for plant industries will continue for some months yet, but it was pleasing to see the plant RDCs, including Wine Australia, recently reaffirm their commitment to plant biosecurity research and innovation by strengthening the model by which the seven plant based RDCs collaborate on biosecurity research and innovation,” said Inca.

“Vinehealth will keep you updated on progress in this area as we see investment in biosecurity research and innovation as a key enabler for a sustainable and prosperous grape and wine industry.”