Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) based at the University of New England have won two of the five Collaborative Innovation Awards presented during the annual conference of the CRC Association of Australia earlier this month. The UNE-based centres are the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and the Poultry CRC.
The Sheep CRC was recognised for its Information Nucleus Program which, by correlating information on a wide range of desirable traits with the DNA profiles of individual sheep, is paving the way towards significantly faster genetic gain to improve productivity and meat and wool quality.
“The Information Nucleus has collected data from 18,000 sheep since 2010, resulting in the capacity to predict sheep breeding values from DNA profiles,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Sheep CRC, Professor James Rowe. “This takes the sheep industry right into the ‘genomic era’.”
Partners in the project have included Sheep Genetics – the key end-user of the new information in delivering results via the LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT networks – as well as practically all of the Sheep CRC’s 20 participants. “Collaboration with industry has been a key element in the success of the program,” Professor Rowe said.
The Poultry CRC’s award was for the development – in collaboration with Bioproperties Pty Ltd and the University of Melbourne – of the Vaxsafe® PM vaccine that protects chickens against fowl cholera.
Professor Mingan Choct (pictured here), the Chief Executive Officer of the Poultry CRC, said the development of the vaccine over the past eight years had been made possible by the unique contributions of each of the collaborators. “In Australia, no single institute possesses the expertise and facilities to address highly complex problems facing industry,” he said. “Only the CRC model, with its focus on collaboration using the capabilities of various partners, can deliver such a result.”
Professor Choct said that the new vaccine would save the Australian poultry industry an estimated $13 million a year. “The poultry industry is an important contributor to Australia’s food basket,” he said. “And, as the Australian industry represents only one per cent of the poultry industry world-wide, the potential benefits of the vaccine to global food security are enormous.”
Already in use in Australia, the vaccine is currently being registered in Mexico.
THE PHOTOGRAPH of Professor Mingan Choct displayed here expands to show him speaking after receiving the award.