Southern Cross University vice chancellor Peter Lee
Southern Cross University vice chancellor Peter Lee John Waddell

Southern Cross Uni wants its share of $200m ‘ideas boom’

GROUNDBREAKING research at Southern Cross University is poised to gain new footholds in the business world, with the Prime Minister's pledge of $200 million to encourage industry investment.

The Federal Government has announced a $1.1 billion innovation plan to promote business-based research and development to drive what Malcolm Turnbull calls a national "ideas boom".

Regional incubators will be established to turn research into marketable products and Southern Cross University vice chancellor Peter Lee wants to ensure the North Coast gets its fair share.

"The Prime Minister is right," he said.

"The mining boom is coming to an end, so what is going to sustain Australia for its next phase of development?

"The regions have to be a part of that.

"We won't be able to rely on everything we dig out of the ground. We have to rely on our smarts."

Leading the way on research and new technology is nothing new for the university.

Work to develop new breeds has contributed to mustard seeds gaining a foothold as an industry in the Northern Rivers.

The university's National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour this year successfully bred mangrove jack in captivity for the first time in New South Wales, paving the way for a new aquaculture industry.

Professor Lee said the new funding could have big implications for promoting new research and gaining investment from the private sector - especially in agriculture.

The $200 million innovation fund will be used to co-invest in businesses that use technology developed by universities and the CSIRO.

Early investors would get a 20% tax offset and capital gains tax exemption.

"Our work in horticulture, crops and pastures - it would be a great opportunity for that," Prof Lee said.

"We would work with industry groups and various crop boards, like the grains board, rice board and sugar board that have farmer levies to promote research.

"It already happens, but this would provide even further incentives for industries to interact with the university."

The Prime Minister said innovation was the way forward for the country's post-minerals economy.

"Unlike a mining boom, it is a boom that can continue forever, it is limited only by our imagination, and I know that Australians believe in themselves, I know that we are a creative and imaginative nation," Mr Turnbull said.

-APN NEWSDESK



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