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GRDC to invest $25m in next frontier for grains research

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13 November 2021, Australia: The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is planning to invest in the order of $25 million in an innovative, new analytics investment platform.

Through new analytical technologies and a new model for research and development partnership, the investment will set up Australian grains research, development and extension (RD&E) – and Australian grain growers – for the future.

GRDC is seeking expressions of interest from traditional and non-traditional partners for this new and transformative investment, Analytics for the Australian Grains Industry (AAGI).

GRDC Genetics and Enabling Technologies General Manager Nicole Jensen says AAGI will use analytics including machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence, data fusion and statistics to support innovation in grains RD&E investments for Australian grain growers.

“This new investment is about pursuing the next frontier of transformational gains for the grains industry. It is ambitious and bold, with the potential to deliver major changes for Australian growers,” Dr Jensen said.

Over a decade ago, GRDC identified the value of investment in statistics for the Australian grains industry and AAGI will be a significant step change in that approach.

This new research will build on the foundational work done under the GRDC’s Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry 3 (SAGI3) investment, which will finish in June 2022.

SAGI3 has provided statistical expertise to over 210 GRDC projects, together worth more than $490M. SAGI3’s original research has also led to publication of more than 50 statistical research papers and several software packages. SAGI has also delivered annual training workshops to grains researchers on statistical topics.

Since 2019 GRDC has addressed the industry’s emerging analytics needs through investment in separate ML and data fusion projects. These projects bring together leading ML and data fusion experts with grains researchers to develop analytics solutions for grains industry problems.

As a result of these investments, growers now benefit from better germplasm selections in pre-breeding programs, clearer research-driven agronomic recommendations, and tools that use data to support on-farm decision-making.

“GRDC research projects take a rigorous, data-driven approach, so statistical and analytical capabilities are essential for converting raw data into meaningful knowledge for the benefit of grain growers and the broader grains industry,” Dr Jensen said.

“Through AAGI, we want to get even better outcomes for growers. Over the next five years GRDC expects to invest in the order of $25 million in AAGI and attract co-investment from partners.

“AAGI will broaden the analytics capabilities available to us and invest even more in high-impact, productivity-enhancing, analytics innovation.

“This investment will ensure our RD&E teams have access to a range of innovative and fit-for-purpose analytics options, so they can continue to help Australian grain growers improve yields, productivity and profitability.”

GRDC has released an EOI this week that signals the start of a multi-stage approach for selecting AAGI project partners.

“This process will enable us to identify key strategic partners as well as other specialist partners,” Dr Jensen said.

The approach is designed to help the GRDC attract strategic partners, who offer science leadership and capability conviction, with a long-term commitment to analytics innovation. Strategic partners will help co-design the project, manage project and associate partners, and oversee the delivery of impactful outcomes.

At the same time, the approach will also allow GRDC to engage a range of partners to contribute their specialist expertise to grains RD&E and innovation.

AAGI Expressions of Interest will close on Thursday, December 23, 2021. Interested partners can learn more about this EOI on the GRDC website.

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