Western to play key role in $35 million agritech research initiative

Western Sydney University is set to play a key role in the future of agritech in Australia after the Federal Government announced it will invest $35 million over the next ten years in the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

The CRC was initiated by the NSW Farmers Association on behalf of the national farm sector and as part of a broader industry-wide push to increase value-adding capability, product differentiation and responsiveness to consumer preferences.

As a key partner in the CRC, Western Sydney University will contribute its world-leading expertise and facilities to accelerate modernisation of the agricultural sector as it transitions from commodity production to the sustainable supply of trusted, nutrition-oriented goods. In turn, leveraging Australia’s reputation for quality, safety, and high regulatory standards.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Deborah Sweeney said Western Sydney University’s contribution to the CRC is testament to the University’s reputation as an innovative and collaborative institution with research excellence.

“Ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide, and with research in the fields of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Sciences ranked well above world standard according to the 2018 ERA assessment, the University’s contribution to this CRC is set to create significant economic, environmental and social benefits to the local, national and international communities that we serve,” said Professor Sweeney.

Research Theme Lead for the CRC’s Smart indoor cropping program, Director of the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and Director of the National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre, Professor Ian Anderson said that smart indoor production systems can enable high levels of control around both inputs and outputs and are also highly compatible with sustainable fresh food production in urbanized areas.

“Our cross-university team brings together horticultural, engineering, robotics, energy and water expertise in new ways to support industry as it scales up investment in high-tech indoor cropping systems.  Our industry partners in the CRC include major growers, technology and service providers.

“Together, our academics, along with other consortia industry and academic partners, will cover a broad range of research challenges across smart indoor cropping, food manufacturing and igniting food regions including dealing with the growing complexity of urban design and planning,” said Professor Anderson.

Western Sydney University researchers contributing to this significant project come from the School of Science and Health, NICM Institute and across the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, home to Australia’s National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre and state-of-the-art glasshouse facilities.


29 March 2019

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer