AGRICULTURE, food and tropical health are the focus of the new $75m Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for developing Northern Australia, according to its interim chair, John Wharton.
Mr Wharton, who is also mayor of Richmond Shire, was speaking on Tuesday at the CRC’s Cloncurry consultation session on a tour of towns across Northern Australia.
The idea of the CRC came out of the government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and will assist businesses, governments and researchers identify opportunities for growth in the north.
Mr Wharton said the CRC would build on expertise and networks to identify areas where collaborative research could deliver commercial opportunities to benefit northern Australia.
“We want to know the key challenges faced by industry in the region which may be solved through collaborative research,” Mr Wharton said
“This is an opportunity for our region if we are innovative.”
Mr Wharton said he had been involved in a lot of economic development in his nine years as mayor of Richmond and he was looking forward to hearing good ideas in agriculture, food and tropical health.
“This money will go straight to a business in one of those industries that needs the research capacity, has a business plan and wants to move on something that improves the bottom line,” he said.
“(This CRC) won’t deal with infrastructure like roads and ports but we can take it on board and refer it to the relevant minister in Canberra.
“Those guys come up here but they haven’t got the local knowledge, so we need to tell them, to make it happen.”
Mr Wharton said the process was confidential if anyone wants to talk to the CRC about their business ideas.
The $75m funding will be allocated over 10 years with Mr Wharton saying the government wanted to get things going before the end of the financial year which would be a challenge.
“But definitely by July 1 we will be in business,” he said.
Participating businesses must match or exceed government funding for projects.