Drought Resilience Research and Adoption Program

A competitive grants process has opened for 8 Drought Resilience Innovation and Adoption Hubs to be established in regional Australia.

The hubs will focus on collaboration, becoming flagship precincts for agricultural innovation — providing networks for researchers, primary producers and community groups to work together to enhance drought resilient practices within their focus region.

The hubs will be located in regional areas that reflect the key agricultural and climatic zones across the country and must have a regional university as a member. The regions are:

  • southern NSW
  • southern Queensland / northern NSW
  • southwest WA
  • Victoria
  • Top End NT/WA
  • tropical north Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania

Hubs will be consortia of research providers and research users, with a regional focus, that come together to address local drought resilience research, development, extension, adoption and innovation priorities.

Organisations interested in being a part of a consortium can register their interest through our Have Your Say webpage. This Have Your Say allows organisations to register their interest in specified regions, and to see what other organisations have registered interest in the same regions. It is then up to organisations to make contact with each other, if they wish. The department will not facilitate connections between organisations or the formation of consortia beyond this Have Your Say facility.

The hubs will aim to ensure agricultural research is useful and accessible, increasing opportunities to commercialise innovation.

An independent advisory committee, to be appointed by early 2021, will provide oversight across the hubs, connecting the hubs to each other and to national priorities and advances.

Initially, 4 years of funding will be provided to the hubs. Funding beyond this will be considered as part of the 4-yearly review of the Drought Resilience Funding Plan.

Innovation Grants, facilitated through this program, will also be available in 2021. The grants will provide opportunities for collaborative drought resilience projects to assist primary producers and communities to adapt and transform.

Under the program, a Drought Resilience Investment Plan will also be developed to identify national drought resilience priorities and a Science to Practice Forum will be held in May 2021 to engage with stakeholders in delivery of the Research and Adoption Program.

Drought resilience stocktake report

We commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to undertake a stocktake of current drought resilience research, development, extension and adoption (RDE&A). The purpose of this stocktake was to improve understanding of the current investment in drought resilience RDE&A in Australia and inform the development of the Drought Resilience Research and Adoption Program.

A challenge in implementing this program is that Australia’s RDE&A system is complicated and includes diverse stakeholders such as Rural Research and Development Corporations, CSIRO, jurisdictions, universities and private funders and providers. The report makes information on drought resilience RDE&A publicly available and identifies current RDE&A activity and capability focused on drought resilience.

This report is a useful resource that will inform the Research Investment Plan, and initial priorities for the Innovation Grants under the program. 

Download

Download the report.

Document Pages File size
Drought resilience research development extension and adoption stocktake PDF 135 2.9 MB
Drought resilience research development extension and adoption stocktake DOCX 135 3.6 MB

Please note: this report was not prepared by the department and may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. If you require an accessible version of the report, please contact its author.

Questions and Answers

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What is the Drought Resilience Research and Adoption Program?

The Drought Resilience Research and Adoption Program (the Program) is a national four year program which will invest $86 million. It is one of eight programs currently underway under the Future Drought Fund.

The objective of the Program is to invest into collaborative research, development, extension, adoption and commercialisation (RDEA&C) activities aimed at helping primary producers and rural and regional communities to become more prepared for, and resilient to, future droughts.

The program has the following interconnected elements:

  • $64 m for eight regionally-focused Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs  will be established in regional Australia. Hubs will be established in specified regions that take in major climatic and agricultural zones across Australia. The Hubs will facilitate transformational change through co-design of Hub RDEA&C activities. This will be achieved by bringing together farmers, researchers, local entrepreneurs, Indigenous groups, NRM practitioners, and industry and community groups. Their respective and different knowledge and expertise will enable user-centred innovation, research and adoption together in a place where it is needed. A competitive process to select the Hubs opened in late October 2020.
     
  • Innovation Grants - $14m for Drought Resilience Innovation Grants will be available for research organisations, the private sector, industry, not-for-profit organisations and community groups. The Grants will support RDEA&C projects co-designed to deliver targeted solutions to identified drought resilience priorities. Further details regarding the Innovation Grants will be set out in the forthcoming grant guidelines when the call for applications opens next year.
     
  • A Research Investment Plan will be developed through a participatory process to identify the highest national drought RDEA&C priorities.
     
  • A Science to Practice Forum will be held to bring together program participants, synthesise RDEA&C outcomes and inform practice and policy; and to facilitate key stakeholders’ discussion on RDEA&C gaps and priorities.

An Advisory Committee will be established to provide strategic oversight and direction to the program. This includes a focus on national priority setting, connecting the regional hubs to a national perspective, and connect the program to the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda.

Who are the Independent Advisory Committee and what is their role?

The Independent Advisory Committee, to be appointed in 2021, will provide oversight of the Hubs, make connections and ensure the national priorities and strategic objectives remain front of mind during the development and implementation of the program. Early tasks will be to assess Hub applications, and advise on a drought resilience research investment plan. Details on terms of reference and membership will be released in due course.

What is the role of the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs?

The purpose of Hubs is to facilitate transformational change through co-design. Hubs will harness research, development and innovation to build drought resilience. They will translate research into practical on-ground action through support for extension, adoption, testing, scaling up and commercialisation support.

This will be achieved by bringing together different stakeholders, such as primary producers, researchers, local entrepreneurs, Indigenous groups, NRM practitioners and industry groups. Their respective and different knowledge and expertise will enable user centred innovation and research, together in a place where it is needed.

In line with this objective, the inclusiveness of Hub membership will be a core consideration in the assessment of Hub applications. Applications that are missing key stakeholders relevant to the delivery of RDEA&C support in the region in question will be less competitive. The department reserves the right to not select any application, and instead undertake an ad hoc grant process open to only selected organisations. This may involve asking those organisations to combine or otherwise modify their previous application.

How are the regions for Adoption and Innovation Hub defined?

The Hubs will support defined regional areas that broadly reflect the key agricultural and climatic zones across the country. The regions targeted are:

  • Southern NSW
  • Southern QLD/Northern NSW
  • South-West WA
  • Victoria
  • Top End NT/WA
  • Tropical North Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania.

In calling for Hub applications, there are no fixed definitions or boundaries for each region. The specific areas covered by Hubs will be refined through the process of calling for, and selecting Hubs. This can include extending the boundary of one of the regions as described above, into another of the regions. The areas specified are intended to broadly capture the major agricultural and climatic zones across Australia. 

In line with this objective, coverage of regions, in terms of both geographical area and farming practices and industries, will be a core consideration in the assessment of Hub applications. Applications that are missing key geographic areas or farming practices will be less competitive.

What organisations are eligible to lead and be a member of an Adoption and Innovation Hub?

Hubs will be a consortium of organisations led by an organisation that is one of the following entities:

  • a Company 
  • a co-operative
  • an indigenous corporation
  • a local government entity
  • incorporated association  (for example an incorporated not for profit organisation)
  • an incorporated joint venture between an Australian state/territory government agency and a university or other organisation
  • a registered higher education provider for the purposes of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (Cth), that is registered in a provider category that permits the use of the word “university”.

Each Hub must have at least one member that is a regional university. Metropolitan universities with regional connections qualify, and relevant applications should explain the nature of those connections. Hubs do not need to be led by a regional university.

While one of the above types of organisation must be the Hub lead, there are no restrictions on the types of entities that can be part of the Hub consortium.

At least one member of a Hub must have a physical presence, of relevance to the delivery of Hub services, in the region in question. The breadth and extent of regional presence among Hub members will be a consideration in assessing applications. Applications with members having a strong presence across different areas within a region will be relatively more competitive.

Do you want help connecting with others to form a Hub?

We will be taking registrations for organisations interested in participating in a Hub. These organisations’ details will be listed on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Have Your Say website. It is then up to interested organisations to make contact with one another. The department will not facilitate the formation of consortia.

You can register, or find details of those registered.

Will co-investment be required?

Each Hub will be funded up to $2m per annum through the Future Drought Fund. It is expected that Hub applications will have at least matching contributions, which can be a mixture of cash and in-kind.

The extent and nature of co-contributions will be a consideration in assessing applications. 

What’s the link to the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda?

The Hubs are being established under the Future Drought Fund. As such, they will be focused on drought resilience. However, they will play a key role in delivering the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda’s pillars of establishing world-class innovation practices by driving a culture of collaboration, entrepreneurship and ambition and strengthening regions by maximising the uptake of innovation.

There is opportunity for the Hubs to play a broader role in supporting agricultural innovation (funded from other government and non-government sources, noting that the Future Drought Fund can only support drought resilience activities).

Hubs will be expected to be agile and responsive to both the changing context of drought resilience, and the broader reforms to modernise Australia’s agriculture innovation system.

Last reviewed: 30 October 2020
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