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Board to help develop Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre

04 June, 2015

Four leading food and agribusiness sector experts will join the board of Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL), the organisation developing the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

The Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre is being established by FIAL under the Australian Government's $188.5 million Industry Growth Centres initiative to boost Australian industry's competitiveness and productivity in five key growth sectors.

Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Growth Centres initiative was the centrepiece of the Australian Government's strategy to guide industry into a new era of growth, investment and jobs, by focussing on areas in which Australia has a competitive edge.

The FIAL Board has been selected by Peter Schutz, Chairman of FIAL and the Chair of the new Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

"Peter has drawn together leading experts from across the food and agribusiness sector. Each brings a wealth of experience to this role, including successful business know-how, business-research collaborations and experience with the not-for-profit sector," Macfarlane said.

The FIAL board members are: Simplot Managing Director Terry O'Brien, dairy industry expert Jane Bennett, food science research and commercialisation expert Michele Allan and Geoff Starr, Director of both food relief charity Foodbank Australia and Australian Pork Ltd. The new board members have advised Schutz on development of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre's business plan.

Minister Macfarlane met in Canberra with the full Growth Centres Advisory Committee and all five Chairs of the Industry Growth Centres to discuss how the Growth Centres will work to address industry-wide issues, including boosting collaboration and commercialisation and increasing access to markets as part of the vision for the Industry Growth Centres initiative. The Growth Centre Chairs updated the Minister on the development of the Growth Centre proposals.

"Each Growth Centre will encourage greater collaboration between businesses in those sectors where we've already got a strong foothold, and where we have the best prospects of future excellence," Macfarlane said.

"I look forward to receiving formal proposals—the high level business plans—outlining industry engagement to date and the vision of each Growth Centre's Chair for guiding the future of their sector.

"With a significant amount of industry consultation already undertaken, each Growth Centre is on task to be operational in the second half of this year. The Committee also discussed potential opportunities to accelerate regulatory reform."

Once established, each Growth Centre will drive growth, productivity and competitiveness to make business easier in each sector by reducing regulatory burden, getting new ideas into the market, improving workforce skills and improving access to international markets and global supply chains.