Australia’s Rural Innovation Future: Performance Review of Australia’s Rural Innovation System, Canberra: National Rural Industries Primary Industries Committee, 2018

The effective performance of the rural innovation system is vital to Australia’s economic future. Contrary to what some assume, the rural sector is very much part of the “new economy”, particularly in the development, application, and use of advanced technologies.

While the contribution of agricultural production to GDP has been falling, in a value chain context, including food and fibre manufacturing and distribution services, the contribution is very much more significant.

The rural innovation system has evolved through several “waves” of technological advance, beginning with mechanisation in the agrarian revolution of the 1700s, the emergence of agricultural sciences followed by the impact of the biological sciences, and more recently, the impact of digital applications, data, and analytics, and even more recently in “disruptions” that flow from AgTech and GeneTech start-ups through greater availability of risk capital.

Continuation of the wave pattern of technological innovation must be encouraged with ongoing public investment in research and development.

The review identified several areas for performance improvement, including:

  • An overarching strategic vision for rural innovation based on market and technological change, biodiversity, and climate change. This vision is used to coordinate state/territory level innovation support.
  • Ensuring that policy and community mindsets reflect the realities of the modern globally-connected rural innovation system.
  • Shifting policy focus from ‘here and now’ productivity and efficiency challenges to new market and longer-term industry facing opportunities.
  • Capturing the significant opportunities in developments in digital technologies as a basis for “creating a revolution in agricultural productivity ad value chain development.
  • Greater policy integration across Commonwealth and State/Territory agencies with research, education and training and regional development within their remits.

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