Work begins on $9.2 million plant centre
Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Work has begun on the $9.2 million centre for plant biotechnology research at the University of Adelaide's Waite Campus at Urrbrae.
In "turning the sod" at today's ground-breaking ceremony, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, Minister for Science and Information Economy, launched a new age in plant research. The centre is expected to play a pivotal role in the growth of Australia's agricultural bioscience industry and helps maintain Australia's competitiveness in crop production. Completion is expected in 2004.
Minister Lomax-Smith said the centre would not only enhance the reputation of the Waite, but also create numerous job opportunities.
"This is the beginning of a significant expansion of what is already a world-class facility," she said. "It will guarantee significant jobs growth and potential innovative business development for the primary industry sector."
Following a keenly contested selection process earlier this year, the University of Adelaide was awarded the Australian Plant Functional Genomics Centre. Over the next five years, the facility will attract $55 million (cash and in-kind) from the Australian Research Council, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Federal and State Governments and the University.
The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha, said the centre was a vote of confidence in South Australia's scientists and a "triumph for the State". "This is further recognition of South Australia's capacity to lead the country - and the world - in developing innovative and commercially valuable platform technologies for one of the country's most important export industries," Professor McWha said.
Initially, more than 100 positions will be created at the Centre. However, with research and development activities expected to double to more than $100 million in five years, employment at the Waite could rise to 3000 science and technical personnel and involve 1000 students.
"Our vision is that it will act as an international magnet for people who want to work in cereal genomics. It will be one of the key centres in the world doing this kind of research," said the centre's director Professor Peter Langridge.
Minister Lomax-Smith said this pioneering work gave us the chance to turn around the so-called 'brain drain' by creating more career opportunities in Adelaide for our graduate and postgraduate scientists.
The centre will house:
- The national headquarters for the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG).
- The Molecular Marker Facility.
- A node of the Australian Genomic Research Facility (AGRF).
- A node of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Molecular Plant Breeding.
- A commercialisation unit.
Meanwhile, the centre's first chairman, Mr Nick Begakis, was introduced at today's ceremony. Skilled in strategic planning and sound leadership practices, he has served as a government advisor and currently chairs the Industry Development Board - Horticulture, he is a member of the Premier's Food Council and has served two terms on the Environment Protection Authority.
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