A Turning of the Sod ceremony to celebrate the start of a new construction at North Dandalup has been ground-breaking in more ways than one. The centre’s proponent, the CY O’Connor ERADE Village Foundation, revealed they have letters of intent from two incubator companies who could become the facility’s first tenants. Founder Professor Roger Dawkins said the project has sparked a great deal of interest.
“We have also recently reached an agreement with Soils for Life, an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging the widest possible adoption of regenerative landscape management practices across rural, remote and urban environments, to undertake a trial with innovative WA farmers undertaking regenerative agricultural practices.”
Prof. Dawkins said WA urgently needs agriculture research and innovation. “It is essential to support advanced research activities and early-stage start-ups focussed on solving problems in the $7.8 trillion global agri-food industry. We are making it happen by collaborating with industry, all levels of government, Murdoch University and international organisations.”
Dawkins believes the development of the Village is critical to realising the vision for Western Australia’s agriculture sector and addressing employment issues in the Peel region, and has approached its development in a distinctive nonpartisan way.
“We have secured $2.5 million funding from the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions fund, and we have the support of the Shire of Murray” he said. The Foundation has pledged to match the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) already received, and to seek further funding.
“We are proud to be partners with Murdoch University, Peel Development Commission and the City of Mandurah in the Future Food Systems application to the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program which supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community. It’s a proven model for linking researchers with industry to focus on research and development towards use and commercialisation, and we hope to be able to announce a positive outcome of further funding from this avenue in the near future,” said Prof. Dawkins.
The purpose-built, shared research facility has been planned over the past two years in response to a demonstrated need for support to advance innovations, research and technologies that will improve agriculture production in the Peel and across the globe. The centre will provide businesses, researchers and entrepreneurs with access to food processing, laboratory facilities, meeting rooms, workstations and livestock and pastures and will become a major focus of the North Dandalup Agriculture Research and Innovation Precinct within Transform Peel’s Business Park.
- The CY O’Connor Education Research and Development Employment Village Foundation (CYOEVF) is a charitable, Western Australian organisation that conducts independent and sponsored research and delivers agriculture technology incubator services. The organisation evolved from the Immunogenetics Research Foundation (IRF) which was established in the 1980s largely to respond to the challenges of AIDS (IRF played a lead role in Western Australia’s response to the global AIDS challenge). In 1998, IRF broadened its activities and became the CY O’Connor ERADE Village Foundation with a focus on multi-disciplinary research within the ERADE Village (established on Melaleuka Stud at Piara Waters.)
- A mix of philanthropic, industry and government funding supported the establishment and operation of a state-of-the-art laboratory facility and 20 incubator units in Piara Waters. During the subsequent 15 years, numerous staff and incubator users have been supported by the proceeds of patents until they were able to establish their own funding. This incubator programme supported a range of small businesses and entrepreneurial scientists to develop the necessary skills, contacts and direction to advance their careers and enterprises.
- Against this backdrop, the Peel Development Commission launched an ambitious strategy (the Peel Regional Investment Blueprint) to promote the rural and agricultural economy. The strategy recognised the potential for intensive agricultural enterprises to exploit the region’s proximity to large markets. Of great interest to CYOEVF was recognition of high quality research and innovation and a requirement to achieve the strategy’s vision. Given that the recent focus of the CYOEVF research programme had been on the Peel agricultural industry, the organisation immediately recognised an opportunity to expand its role.
- Working closely with the Peel Development Commission, Shire of Murray, Murdoch University and the Tillbrook Melaleuka Group (TMG), CYOEVF developed detailed plans for the North Dandalup Agriculture Research and Innovation Precinct. This precinct – a collaborative research cluster – will house the Centre for Innovation in Agriculture and position the Peel as a major region for high value agriculture innovation and attract and retain talented and entrepreneurial researchers in Australia.
- This precinct complements government and private sector investment in the Transform Peel initiative which is expected to support more than $16 billion of economic activity per annum and 33,000 local jobs by 2050. The initiative comprises three integrated and strategic projects: a 28,000 hectare Peel Food Zone; a 1.000 hectare Peel Business Park; and the Peel Integrated Water Initiative.
This article was written by and published with thanks from C Y O’CONNOR ERADE VILLAGE FOUNDATION.