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New Industry 4.0 hub launches in Shoalhaven

Businesses, farmers and researchers in the Shoalhaven region will benefit from cutting-edge technology and research with the launch of a new industry hub in Nowra on 24 September 2020.

The Morrison Government has provided $2 million to establish the Nowra Agri-business Innovation Hub at the University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven campus to connect the regional agri-business sector with the latest technologies and research.

The Senator for New South Wales stated that the launch of the hub would kick-start a new chapter of innovation and growth in the region.

The hub will ensure that local students, businesses and entrepreneurs can access the expertise, equipment and innovation that will help them succeed, she said. The Shoalhaven region has a strong history in agribusiness, manufacturing and defence industries, as well as a skilled labour force.

The research conducted in the university’s facilities will provide advice and technical assistance for those businesses to explore new technologies and drive growth.

The Minister for Education stated that the Government was committed to enhancing collaboration between universities, industry, businesses, government and the wider community.

The research done by Australia’s universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains, he said. As part of its Job-ready Graduates reforms, the Government is providing $900 million to establish the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund to fund partnerships between universities and industry.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong stated that the hub will provide the community with access to tools and support to create a thriving economic future. The University has always served its communities and this was recently demonstrated in the assistance it provided to students and businesses across the South Coast and Southern Highlands throughout Australia’s bushfire crisis and the pandemic, he remarked.

The university is determined to continue to value-add to local communities economically, environmentally, socially and culturally by investing in research and innovation.

“So, it is fitting to be partnering with the Australian Government to officially open this Industry 4.0 Hub at a time when Australia’s economic recovery is based on our success at growing new businesses, creating jobs, and supporting existing businesses,” he concluded.

The hub is expected to provide further details on research engagement and translation in the first half of 2021.

Applying digital transformation to the agriculture sector is paramount. Invest NSW notes that agricultural technology (Agtech), is predicted to become Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030. The sector is fast becoming a vital part of the NSW economy and a growing source of both income and investment.

Thriving agtech clusters, world-class life sciences institutions and high-quality produce, make NSW the ideal environment for agribusiness innovation.

A rising middle class, especially in the Asia Pacific, is moving from a simple diet to one that’s much higher in the kind of agriculturally-intensive foods in which Australia and NSW specialise. At the same time, demand for locally-grown sustainable food is growing in the domestic market.

Global warming and diminishing natural resources present obstacles to meeting this changing demand. So too does the rising cost of energy, labour, fertiliser, seeds and herbicides. These challenges have created a perfect environment for Agtech to grow.

NSW is at the forefront of using technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to increase agricultural productivity. However, agtech isn’t just changing the face of farming; it’s helping save farming land. Technological advances ensure we can produce, supply and store food sustainably.

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