Cultivating a shared vision for agricultural innovation

​​​Our agricultural innovation system is world-leading but Australia’s agriculture sector faces unprecedented change. Changing global markets, increasing international competition, technological disruption, changing industry structures, and climate and water related risk present a myriad of opportunities and challenges for Australian agriculture.

The department, in conjunction with Ernst & Young (EY), will undertake a comprehensive consultation process with stakeholders across the agricultural innovation system, including research providers, rural research and development corporations, industry representatives, governments, investors, start-ups and accelerators, producers, grower and farm systems groups, processors and retailers.

This project will create a shared vision for the future of the agricultural innovation system and enable opportunities for a vibrant agricultural sector. The vision will be designed through engagement with stakeholders who were involved in the consultation.

We want to hear from stakeholders who participate across the many components of the agricultural innovation system to develop a clearer pathway for research, development and extension to boost productivity and growth in the agricultural sector.

The project will also investigate best practice systems for innovation across Australia and around the globe, both within and outside the agriculture sector.

Key areas of focus include:

  • improving adoption of Australian research outcomes, including faster commercialisation of products
  • increasing private and foreign investment in Australian research and Agtech development
  • optimising rural research and development investments, so that our investments are targeted to activities that will maximise productivity and ensure the long term prosperity of the Australian agriculture sector
  • improving collaboration across the agricultural innovation system and reducing duplication.

Have something to contribute? You can contact the team with your suggestions. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #cultivateaginnovation

Project insights

Over the coming months, we will publish regular updates on the results of our stakeholder engagement and the developing vision.

[expand all]

1 November 2018

We have now engaged with more than 300 stakeholders through face to face interviews, teleconferences and workshops across the country. This comprehensive engagement has drawn out insights from stakeholders across all facets of the agricultural innovation system—including researchers, RDCs, industry representatives, producers, processors, investors, government agencies, and companies across the start-up, accelerator and incubator communities.

We are now focused on expanding our reach to producers and processors on the ground, with three separate regional trips underway. We’ll be visiting northern Victoria, southern New South Wales, Rockhampton and Townsville in Queensland. There will also be a regional trip from the Darling Downs in Queensland through to Armidale and Orange in New South Wales.

23 locations visited (workshops in five major cities, interviews in each capital and 18 regional
areas in the roadshows.
Map of Australia with dots highlighting cities visited in consultations.

Early insights on the current state of the agricultural innovation system have been formed from more than 1,200 observations from the stakeholder engagement activities. These observations were grouped around ten key themes as below:

  • Innovation recognised across the system as critical for the future of the agriculture sector.
  • Key pillars of strength exist in the system including research capabilities, diverse commodities and the volume of government funding.
  • The innovation system needs to be agile, adaptable and flexible.
  • Lack of a clear uniting purpose; better coordination is needed to counter system-wide fragmentation.
  • Greater integration across the agriculture value chain is needed.
  • There is an opportunity for improved adoption of innovation through greater support and understanding of end-user needs.
  • Investment and funding allocation optimisation is needed to balance incremental and disruptive innovation.
  • There is a need to attract diverse local and international sources of investment.
  • Collaboration between different elements of the system can be significantly increased for the benefit of the entire system.
  • Improving the foundations of the innovation system will create a strong platform for the future.
The international analysis continues with the examination of innovation systems in other countries and industries to capture leading thinking on innovation. Examples of agricultural innovation systems studied in this analysis include Brazil’s research and development organisation Embrapa, China’s food security strategy emphasising strong agricultural research and development, and the Netherlands’ Food Valley and ‘Golden Triangle’ initiatives bringing together government, research and private sector players.  Interviews with our international stakeholders are now underway and will continue into November.

15 October 2018

The joint EY and department team have now conducted more than 120 interviews in the first phase of the project.

The team has have interviewed a wide range of stakeholders involved in the agricultural innovation system in all capital cities and will shortly be heading to some of our regional centres to continue gathering information.

Opinions on the future of agricultural innovation vary but most stakeholders interviewed to date agree that innovation is key to encouraging transformational productivity growth in the sector. The agricultural sector must be prepared to meet the challenges of the coming decades and a shared vision for a future-fit agricultural innovation system is a vital part of that work.

Some topics that have been regularly discussed include:

  • the need for greater collaboration throughout the system
  • addressing the challenge of attracting, developing and retaining the next generation of talent across the agricultural sector
  • an increased focus on the end-user and consumers’ needs to encourage the development and adoption of validated innovation across the full value chain.

International research and consultation is underway with a focus on countries with strong innovation models such as the USA, Israel, China, the Netherlands and Brazil.

Workshops are the next key phase of the project as we begin to develop and test the themes identified for the shared vision with a number of key stakeholders.


6 November 2018
Sydney workshop participants discuss their vision for agricultural innovation

Sydney workshop (transcript) DOCX [25 KB]

14 September 2018
A vision for farming and a road map to rural innovation — Minister David Littleproud media release

Consultation dashboard

The joint department and EY consultation team will travel across the country to meet with stakeholders across capital cities and regional centres. We will be meeting face-to-face, holding workshops, getting on the phone and attending agricultural events to hear what is working and what needs to be improved.

The consultation will involve two phases. Phase one will focus on listening to a wide range of stakeholder views to identify options for ensuring our agricultural innovation system is fit for the future.  Phase two will test our key findings from the first phase and focus on co-designing the shared vision. The insights gathered through these two phases will be supplemented by research of best practice from around the globe.


11–13 September Canberra
14 September Wagga Wagga
17–18 September Adelaide
19–21 September Melbourne
24–26 September Sydney
28 September Canberra
2–5 October Canberra, Perth and Melbourne
8–10 October Launceston and Hobart
11–12 October Brisbane
15–19 October Canberra
22 October Melbourne workshop
23 October Adelaide workshop
24 October Sydney workshop
25 October Perth workshop
29 October – 2 November Rockhampton and Townsville visits
29 October – 2 November Northern Victoria and southern New South Wales visits
5–9 November Toowoomba, Armidale and Orange visits

Further consultations to be scheduled.