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Leading agriculture research hub attracts New Zealand science and innovation company

Primary Industries

New Zealand-based science and innovation company Plant & Food Research is establishing a base at the largest agricultural research and teaching hub in the Southern Hemisphere.

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The move into the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus in South Australia will give the company access to world-class facilities and drive research collaborations aimed at enhancing 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 science organisation Plant & Food Research, a NZ Government-owned Crown Research Institute.

The company has previously worked with the University of Adelaide on agricultural product development, almond orchard systems and harvest technologies.

It is also a partner in the new University of Adelaide-led Research Consortium – Agricultural Product Development, increasing the value of agricultural waste and turning it into new products; and has formal agreement in place to work with the University’s Adelaide Glycomics on complex carbohydrates and their potential in a range of sectors.

Established in Adelaide’s southern suburbs in 1924, The Waite is the largest concentration of agricultural research and teaching expertise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Plant & Food Research Australia will join 15 complementary organisations already at The Waite, including CSIRO, The Australian Wine Research Institute, Australian Grain Technologies and the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Like New Zealand, the South Australia relies heavily on agriculture, seafood and wine exports to drive its economy.

University of Adelaide’s Vice- Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said the campus had been at the heart of development of agriculture and food industries in South Australia for almost a century.

“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,” Professor Rathjen said.

Plant & Food Research Group General Manager, Marketing and Innovation Dr Gavin Ross said establishing a base at the campus would provide access to complementary facilities and skills within the university and other partner organisations, along with a well-trained pool of students at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

“Science is a complicated business, requiring large teams with a vast array of skills and infrastructure, and generating large data sets that require new and sophisticated procedures for analysis,” Dr Ross said.

“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.”

Plant & Food Research also has a collaboration with the University of Adelaide’s almond breeding program, and has major projects in other nut crops and in pollination across a range of crops.

The company has also bred several new plant varieties commercialised and grown in Australia, including Jazz, Envy and Rockit brand apples, and potatoes licensed to South Australian potato grower Mitolo.

South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said there was growing global demand for the safe, healthy food for which South Australia was well known.

“The increased research capabilities (of Plant & Food Research Australia) 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,” Minister Whetstone said.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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