Fed Gov Funds Australian-First Plant Biosecurity Research Centre

Biodiversity and forest health are key to protecting Australia's $5.7 trillion natural and productive ecosystem.

Fri 04 Aug 23


The Australian Government has committed to funding a new Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre in Plant Biosecurity. 

As reported by AU Manufacturing, the $5m commitment is part of a $64 million funding for eight new Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centres and five new ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs.

“These new ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres and Research Hubs will allow Australia’s best researchers to engage with critical industry partners to address current and future challenges faced by industrial sectors,” said ARC CEO Judi Zielke.

It covers battery recycling, digital manufacturing and radiation innovation.

Industry partners and universities will also provide additional funding worth $227 million to the new ARC Training Centres and over $78 million for the new ARC Research Hubs.

Footage courtesy of @australianresearchcouncil5483.
Industry welcomes commitment to plant biosecurity.

Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has welcomed the announcement – with the program to focus on future leaders in diagnostic technology, data-driven decision platforms, and addressing barriers to biodiversity adoption.

According to FWPA Forest Research Manager Jodie Mason, “This research is of key importance, especially for our grower members, as biosecurity is a critical part of Australia’s efforts to prevent, respond to, and recover from pests and diseases that impact and threaten the forestry industry.”

Australia has a $5.7 trillion natural and productive ecosystem, and plant biodiversity is essential in preserving forest health.

“Our grower members identified forest health and biosecurity expertise as an area of critical importance for capacity building,” Ms Mason said.

“True to their vision, the growers collectively contributed $250,000 to the Centre to fund two PhD students to work on industry biosecurity challenges with industry.” 

“It’s pleasing to see this initiative supported through the ARC funding.” 

The Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme provides funding for partnerships between university-based researchers and those in the industry. 

Training Centres provide Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) and postdoctoral training for industries vital to Australia’s future.

The new centre will open in 2024 and be led by ANU

Established by the Australian Government in 2013, this is the first time Plant Biodiversity will be supported under the scheme.

The ARC Training Centre will meet the emerging needs of plant biosecurity. It will partner with Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), including FWPA, industry representatives, Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, and research and technology organisations to train a new generation of biosecurity leaders and innovators. 

“This great initiative helps to prepare our industry for the biosecurity challenges of the future and shows a proactive and collaborative approach to improving industry capacity and productivity,” said Dr Phil Lacy, Chair of Forest Health and Biosecurity (FHaB). 

Dr Phil Lacy is Chair of Forest Health and Biosecurity (FHaB) for the Australian Forest Products Association. Dr Lacey will collaborate with the new centre.

The Australian Forest Products Association’s (AFPA) FHaB sub-committee provides policy, technical and operational advice to the plantation forest sector on all matters related to biosecurity or forest health. 

The new centre will start in 2024 and will be led by The Australian National University in collaboration with James Cook University, the University of Canberra and over 20 partners from across industry and Government. 

“ARC Training Centres provide PhD and early career researcher training for industries vital to Australia’s future,” according to Professor Keith Nugent, ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation.

“Plant biosecurity is critical to Australia’s primary production and natural ecosystems, and ANU is delighted to collaborate with partners across Government, academia and industry towards a shared vision.” 

Professor Keith Nugent was appointed the ANU Deputy-Chancellor of Research and Innovation in 2019

The eight ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres include:

  • ARC Training Centre for Automated Vehicles in Rural and Remote Regions ($5m): Led by Professor Sebastien Glaser, Queensland University of Technology
  • ARC Training Centre for Whole Life Design of Carbon Neutral Infrastructure ($5m): Led by Professor Chun-Qing Li, RMIT University
  • ARC Training Centre in Predictive Breeding for Agricultural Futures ($5m): Led by Professor Lee Hickey, The University of Queensland
  • ARC Training Centre in Plant Biosecurity ($5m): Led by Professor Peter Solomon, The Australian National University
  • ARC Training Centre in Critical Resources Futuree ($5m): Led by Professor Marco Fiorentini, The University of Western Australia
  • ARC Training Centre for Radiation Innovation ($4.99m): Led by Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, The Australian National University
  • ARC Training Centre for Battery Recycling ($5m): Led by Professor Shizhang Qiao, The University of Adelaide
  • ARC Training Centre for Radiochemical Technologies and Precision Radiopharmaceuticals ($5m): Led by Professor Andrea Robinson, Monash University

The five ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs include:

  • ARC Research Hub in Zero-emission Power Generation for Carbon Neutrality ($5m): Led by Professor Zhi-Gang Chen, Queensland University of Technology
  • ARC Research Hub for Engineering Plants to Replace Fossil Carbon ($4.93m): Led by Professor Robert Henry, The University of Queensland
  • ARC Research Hub for Smart Process Design and Control ($5m): Led by Professor Aibing Yu, Monash University
  • ARC Research Hub for Value-Added Processing of Underutilised Carbon Waste ($4.96m): Led by Professor Lian Zhang, Monash University
  • ARC Research Hub for Future Digital Manufacturing ($5m): Led by Professor Dimitrios Georgakopoulos, Swinburne University of Technology

More information about the funding round is available here.


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