New research hub boost for Mt Gambier -
In a major boost to the South East’s $1.2 billion forest industry and the thousands of regional jobs it supports, the South Australian Government has committed $2 million towards a National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub in Mount Gambier.
The hub will be based at UniSA’s Mount Gambier campus and is the result of a State Government partnership with the university and the Federal Government – which has also committed $2 million over four years towards the hub.
An industry-driven regional advisory committee will be established to determine priority research projects for the forest and wood products industry – which currently sustains around 4000 jobs in the South East.
It is expected operations at the hub will commence by the end of this year.
The Federal and State Governments have each committed $2 million over four years ($500,000 per annum) towards the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub and it’s expected it will also secure financial support direct from industry.
The hub will play a vital role in fostering collaboration, supporting cutting edge research, boosting innovation, maintaining jobs and making Mount Gambier one of the major centres for forest-industry research in the country. The hub’s activities will enhance the strength of the Green Triangle region which is already one of Australia’s most important regions for the growing and processing of timber.
The hub will also build upon the extensive information ForestrySA has generated over many years of research.
The facility will be a major asset for the South East as it provides opportunities for local industry to influence the research priorities and apply the research locally.
“Cutting edge research is vital to any industry and forestry offers so much potential and it’s exciting South Australia will soon be home to one of Australia’s leading forest and wood products research institutes in the country,” said SA Forestry Minister Leon Bignell.
“Having invested significantly in capacity and infrastructure building in Mount Gambier in recent years, our partnership in this invaluable research and development hub for the forestry industry will support real innovation in South Australia,” said UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd.
“As Australia’s University of Enterprise this is exactly the kind of partnership where our researchers can add value to industry and support economic growth in the State and significantly, in regional South Australia,” Professor Lloyd said.
"UniSA researchers will be working to find innovative improvements and solutions related to water sustainability and quality, measuring and managing productivity, improving waste management and energy use, growing forestry through product innovations and marketing and ensuring a sustainable future for the industry in the Mt Gambier region.
"As Australia’s University of Enterprise this is exactly the kind of partnership where our researchers can add value to industry and support economic growth in the State and significantly, in regional South Australia," Professor Lloyd said.
“This investment is recognition that in a carbon constrained global economy in which renewable resources are at a premium, the forest products industry can play a key role in Australia’s innovation agenda,” said Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Ross Hampton.
“With a $2 million commitment from the Federal Government and additional commitments from industry over time, the Institute has the potential to become the focal point of a strategic network of research ‘nodes’ that reflect industry priorities, and reinforcing the good work being done in other industry-led R&D efforts.”
The major pathways for our industries to contribute to climate change policy and Australia’s innovation agenda include:
• the carbon sequestered in growing forests;
• the carbon stored in harvested wood and paper products;
• the substitution of high emissions materials (e.g. steel, concrete) with wood and other fibre based products that have low embodied energy, including new innovative bioproducts; and the use of woody biomass for renewable and baseload energy generation (including for renewable heat and biofuels), thereby displacing fossil fuels.
The National Institute for Forest Products Innovation will have two nodes, one in Mt Gambier and the other in Launceston (Tasmania).
Potential to become the focal point of a strategic network of research ‘nodes’ that reflect industry priorities