Former head of Meat and Livestock Australia Richard Norton has been announced as the new CEO of Food Agility CRC. He will join the centre on 1 February.
Norton said he was attracted to the role because of the CRC's purpose and approach, as well as the calibre and capabilities of its team and board. “Globally, markets and investors are demanding evidence of climate action. Data and digital will be key in meeting those demands and differentiating the Australian brand in the global marketplace,” Mr Norton said.
Food Agility CRC chair Dr Anne Astin said the role had been hotly contested, with Norton's "strong commercial lens" setting him apart.
Astin said: "It was Richard’s deep expertise in the agrifood sector, including in digital innovation, as well as his track record as an organisational leader, that impressed the board. He brings a strong commercial lens that will be critical as Food Agility focuses on building scalable pathways to get research out of universities and into industry.”
Norton said poor connectivity in regional Australia was one of the greatest barriers to productivity and agribusiness' future was dependent on solving that so data sharing and digital adoption could thrive.
“They are big challenges, requiring new approaches to innovation; old R&D models won’t work. I’m excited by the agile, design-led methods Food Agility is bringing to the research sector,” he said.
At MLA, Norton oversaw an annual R&D budget of around $220 million and the creation of Integrity Systems Company (ISC), a digital traceability system that underpins trust in the red meat sector.
Food Agility is a $150 million cooperative research centre that brokers partnerships between agrifood, technology and research organisations. Its collaborative research creates scalable, data-driven digital solutions for the Australian agrifood industry.