By their very construct, Research and Development Corporations are partnerships between industries who pay levies and the Australian Government.
So how the RDC model looks now, and how it will look in the future, is really out of my hands.
What I can say is Hort Innovation is in a solid position currently, and the three years from when the previous horticulture RDC was dissolved in favour of what is Hort Innovation today has been both challenging and rewarding.
Different to the previous model, Hort Innovation is a grower-owned RDC that competitively procures research services in line with the Australian Government procurement requirements; has a robust return on investment framework and a two-part investment structure that caters to the needs of growers now, and into the next decade.
Eighteen months on from the transition there is wide engagement framework in place and is more active than ever.
Everything we do is done with advice from industry.
We service a levy payer base of 33 commodities, there are more than 50 different horticulture sectors in Australia, and more than 25 representative bodies.
We work with all these stakeholders as much as possible to try and help them meet their needs.
We take guidance from more than 300 people on industry advisory panels; through workshops, surveys and participation in R&D trials; and we have a team of relationship managers travelling the country constantly, working with growers, sharing R&D outcomes and encouraging R&D investment ideas and membership. Then there’s our marketing and R&D staff eagerly working with the industry and research partners to deliver projects and bring real results.
The Australian Government allocates levy funding, alongside its own financial contributions, to Hort Innovation. It is then our role to then identify, broker, and manage investments on behalf of industry.
And that is a role we take very seriously.
Currently, we have more than 600 research, development and marketing projects in the pipeline – all of which serve the primary purpose of increasing the productivity, farm-gate profitability and global competitiveness of Australia’s horticulture industries.
Over the past year alone, working with growers, we have had some great wins.
We recently launched the largest trade push in horticulture’s history, Taste Australia, accompanied by a six-month trade show tour across Asia and in the Middle East.
Our trade relationships have never been stronger, neither has Australia’s reputation for offering clean, green, quality produce.
Last year, we opened the nation’s first horticulture robotics hub, The Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, located at Sydney University.
We are also advancing the effort to release Australia’s first male-only Queensland Fruit Flies, a pest that is responsible for more than $300M in lost markets for Australian horticulture.
In marketing, the profits from the nation’s first-ever avocado pop up restaurant offset the investment, and the initiative saw close to 2000 people going through the doors in Sydney and fans calling for the pop up to appear in other major cities.
The Aussie Apples and Netball Australia Get Your Crunch On campaign also recently took two wins at the Parent’s Voice Fame Awards.
And watch this space because there is plenty more to come.
- John Lloyd is the CEO of Hort Innovation.