14 Aug 2014

Fonterra in Australian research deal

4:32 pm on 14 August 2014

Fonterra says it's not turning its back on New Zealand research organisations in an agreement it's just signed with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

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Dairy for life ... and a research deal for Australian scientists. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The five-year strategic agreement will cover research ranging from herd productivity, effluent management and milk quality, to processing and analytical technology, food design and consumer health.

Fonterra's chief technology officer Dr Jeremy Hill was quick to point out that it would complement rather than compete with the work the dairy co-operative was doing with New Zealand research providers.

"CSIRO's an extremely broad and dioverse organisation, so it has science and technology cpabilities in agriculture and food, but also in such areas as mining,(and) information technology," Dr Hill said.

"And the idea behind the partnership is not really to compete against existing partnerships with the New Zealand based organisations, in which Fonterra has many, but really to complement them, and to bring some of the quite different capabilities in science and technology that exist within CSIRO."

He added that the wide-ranging nature of the agreement with CSIRO was a sign of a more open, less prescriptive approach to research.

"Rather than be prescriptive about what solutions we're looking for, we're keen to share with our partners what the opportunities are we're looking to capture and some of the problems we've got that are preventing us from doing so.

"Essentially we're unleasing the intellectual firepower in those organisations to come up with solutions that we couldn't have possibly thought of, anyway.

"This sort of approach, I think, is the way forward for modern innovation. To be successful today you need to be highly connected, you need to be leveraging lots of different types of capabilities, networks, putting together different elements in order to create some novel solutions."

Dr Hill said an example of that less prescriptive approach would be exploring how CSIRO's mining technology knowledge, in particular dealing with water issues, could be applied to the dairy industry.

He said, as another example, CSIRO's development of 3D printing technology had potential for making new types of packaging.

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