AN INTERNATIONAL horticultural research company had found a new home at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in a move expected to help enhance research and innovation in SA’s food sector.
The company already has partnerships with the university, particularly linked to almond orchard systems, but both groups say the co-location will drive further research collaborations to boost production, sustainability and value-adding in the horticulture, food and agriculture industries.
Plant & Food Research Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand-owned Crown Research Institute’s Plant & Food Research.
University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen said Waite had been at the heart of the development of agriculture and food industries in SA right from the start.
“Now with more than 250 academic staff at the University directly involved in agrifood and wine education and research, we continue to lead research and innovation in these sectors, which are the key drivers for the South Australian economy,” he said.
But Professor Rathjen said the value at Waite was in more than just its staffing but also the partnerships and collaborations it was able to have with leading science organisations and industry through co-location.
Plant & Food Research Australia will set up offices and laboratories among the university facilities on the Waite campus.
The company is a partner in the new University of Adelaide-led Research Consortium – Agricultural Product Development, which aims to increase the value of agricultural waste and turn it into new products.
It has formal agreement in place to work with the University’s Adelaide Glycomics on complex carbohydrates and their potential in a range of sectors.
“Bringing Plant & Food Research to SA is an example of the university’s research expertise, facilities and connections attracting international industry to Adelaide,” Research Consortium Lead Investigator and Director of Adelaide Glycomics Vincent Bulone said.
“The innovation from our research programs will build industry sustainability and value-adding, and produce new, future-facing, high-value jobs in agriculture and food, and other industries.”
Plant & Food Research Group marketing and innovation general manager Gavin Ross the new location at Waite would provide the company ready access to complementary facilities and skills within the university and other partner organisations.
He said there was also the benefit in a “well-trained pool” of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
“Waite has a world-wide reputation for excellence and we look forward to building on past collaborations in working closely with industry, our clients and funding bodies,” he said.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said there was growing demand, globally for “the safe, healthy food for which SA is well known”.
“The increased research capabilities will further the state’s reputation as a world leader in agricultural and food research, and help take advantage of the tremendous potential for growth in the horticulture and agri-food sectors,” he said.
Plant & Food Research has existing collaborationa with the University’s almond breeding program and has also bred several new plant varieties commercialised and grown in Australia, including Jazz, Envy and Rockit brand apples, and potatoes licensed to potato growers Mitolo.