Symposium to boost innovation in primary industries

Published 02 September 2008

New farmingA national symposium hosted by the University of New England will examine ways of helping Australian primary industries to adopt innovative technologies more quickly and efficiently.

“Primary industry research hasn’t got a good record for having innovations adopted,” said the convener of the symposium, Dr Philip Thomas from UNE’s School  of Business, Economics and Public Policy. “Rates of adopting innovation across Australia’s primary industries are (with a few exceptions) low. This is a fundamental challenge for both the research and the farming communities, and we don’t at present have a strategy to overcome it.”

Dr Thomas said that the aims of the symposium, on the 24th and 25th of November 2008, would be to identify impediments to the process of adopting innovation, to discuss solutions, and to outline a strategy to develop and implement those solutions.

The symposium will bring together researchers, farmers, and agricultural advisers and investors, as well as representatives of industry organisations, government and non-government agencies, and agribusiness. There will be about 40 speakers from around Australia and New Zealand, and the Keynote Address will be given by John Bessant, Professor of Innovation Management in the Tanaka  Business School at Imperial College London. Professor Bessant, a Fellow of the British Academy of Management, has lectured and consulted widely around the world, and is the author of 15 books and many articles on the adoption of innovation.

The Primary Industries Innovation Centre (a joint venture of UNE and the NSW Department of Primary Industries) is supporting the symposium, together with the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sheep Industry Innovation, the CRC for Beef Genetic Technologies, Meat and Livestock Australia, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and Australian Wool Innovation Ltd.

Titled “New Pathways to Adoption and Diffusion of Primary Industries Innovations”, the symposium will draw on a broad range of industry and research experience. “We’re trying to achieve a good balance between academic perspectives and real-life case studies,” Dr Thomas said. “We’ve engaged professionals who will provide insight into real-life innovation success, and also highlight the key factors causing failure to adopt innovation – and how these might be overcome in the future.”

The symposium will end with a workshop to establish a collaborative research strategy aimed at integrating and implementing ideas arising in the preceding sessions.

Selected papers presented at the symposium will be peer reviewed for publication in a special edition of the Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture. The deadline for the submission of abstracts (including poster abstracts) is the 30th of September, and the deadline for registering attendance at the symposium is the 10th of November.