Innovation hubs set for roll-out under drought fund program

Eight Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs are to be established in regional Australia as part of the Commonwealth’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.

The hubs will support networks of researchers, farmers, agricultural businesses and community groups to enhance drought resilience practice, tools and technology.

Federal Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said $86 million will be invested in the innovation hubs.

 “[They] will also break down silos and provide a physical location where researchers and the community can come together to develop ideas that build drought resilience,” he said.

Competitive processes to appoint the hubs and a regional university to lead delivery of this program is expected to open in October 2020.

The hubs will be Southern NSW, S.E. Queensland/Northern NSW, South-West WA, Victoria, Top End NT/WA, Far-north Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania.

In related news, the number of federally funded officers liaising between drought-affected communities and governments will rise from 19 to 24.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the extra funding for the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency (which administers the RRO network) at last week’s Bush Summit in Cooma, NSW.

Mr Morrison also announced that competitive grant rounds have opened to identify providers for two of the nine programs being funded under the Future Drought Fund.

The programs will provide support to regional and rural communities as part of the broader objectives set out under the Fund’s 2020-24 Drought Resilience Funding Plan, which is intended to provide continuous funding for future drought resilience initiatives

Applications close on 25 September 2020, and successful providers are expected to be announced later this year.