• A new scheme will create industry growth centres in five sectors including food and agribusiness.
    A new scheme will create industry growth centres in five sectors including food and agribusiness.
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The food industry is one of five growth centres pinpointed in the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda which was unveiled yesterday.

One of the key plans announced by the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane was a $188 million scheme to create industry growth centres in five sectors including food and agribusiness.

These would take the form of non-profit industry-led centres which would seek to make better use of scientists and researchers to commercialise products.

A series of roundtables will take place over the next few months with business leaders, industry associations and peak bodies and academics to fine-tune the plan.

Measures were also announced to streamline regulatory approvals to prevent Australia reinventing the wheel when it comes to internationally accepted regulatory standards, to create a greater commercial focus in the awarding of research grants; and to increase emphasis on science, mathematics and vocational training that is tailored to business needs.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed the strong focus on boosting industry competitiveness.

“The Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda released today unashamedly backs Australia’s strengths in nominating five growth sectors for the future," AFGC CEO Gary Dawson said.

“Food and agribusiness is one of those growth sectors, with great potential to drive jobs, growth and investment as the mining boom tapers off.”

Dawson said that in order to maximise Australia’s comparative advantage in agribusiness, value-adding – turning high quality agricultural production into high value, premium priced food for the growing middle class markets in Asia and beyond – must happen here in Australia.

“The creation of the Food Industry Growth Centre announced today will help drive greater innovation and assist particularly small businesses in accessing and commercialising research breakthroughs. It is a key building block for the future growth of the food sector,” Dawson said.

“The strong emphasis on regulatory reform is also welcome. Ongoing regulatory reform that helps reduce the high costs of doing business in Australia is vital for the future competitiveness of trade exposed sectors like food and grocery and essential to boost our trade performance.”

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