UNE-based CRCs win national awards for Excellence in Innovation

Published 27 May 2009

Mingan Choct, Chief Executive Officer (Poultry CRC) mchoct@une.eTwo Cooperative Research Centres that have their headquarters at the University of New England have received Awards for Excellence in Innovation during the Cooperative Research Centres Association’s annual conference in Canberra this week.

UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, congratulated the UNE-based Chief Executive Officers of the Australian Poultry CRC and the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation on the awards, noting the achievements of their respective CRCs as “outstanding”.

The awards were presented by Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, and Dr Megan Clark, the Chief Executive Officer of CSIRO, at a Gala Dinner held in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Tuesday evening.

The Poultry CRC won its award – for education, training and outreach – for Poultry Hub, an interactive online educational resource designed to stimulate the interest of Generation Y in poultry production and thus help to stem the “brain drain” from agricultural studies at Australian schools and universities. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN has praised the Web site (poultryhub.org).

The Poultry CRC’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Mingan Choct (pictured here), who received the award on behalf of the CRC, said the agricultural sector needed to “skill up”. “Demand for graduates in agricultural science is projected to grow explosively as Australia defends its lead in the field,” he said.

Based on the popular “wiki” software, Poultry Hub‘s array of useful resources and multimedia is proving a hit with both students and teachers . Poultry Hub is being developed to support the transfer of information from R&D into the industry as well as supporting the education and training aims of the CRC.

The Sheep CRC’s Precision Sheep Management (PSM) initiative, a revolutionary approach to sheep management, received an award for innovation in science and technology. Accepting the award on behalf of the CRC, its Chief Executive Officer, Professor James Rowe, acknowledged the team effort required for such an ambitious industry initiative, and the value of the CRC model.

“Essentially, Precision Sheep Management is a package of tools for graziers to move the management of their sheep from a mob to an individual basis,” Professor Rowe said. “Historically, shepherds looked after the whole flock. Over time, that moved to farmers dividing sheep up into groups based on age, sex, type or breed, and managing those as mobs.

“Now, with affordable and robust technology, we can monitor and manage each and every animal in the mob according to its needs and merits, as well as the farmer’s and the market’s needs.

“It’s a whole new approach to livestock management, and it’s driving productivity improvement.”