New university director to help grow food sector

The University of Adelaide has announced a new focus on helping grow the food sector with the appointment of its inaugural Director of Food Innovation.

Professor Andrew Lowe will help develop partnerships with industry and government and act as the key interface with partners across the area of food innovation, to help maximise benefits to the community and the University of its world-class research and teaching capability in this area.

“Food innovation is one of the University of Adelaide’s clear strengths, from farm production through to food technology and reducing the ecological footprint, and on to consumer behaviour and value chains as well as impact on human health,” says Interim Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mike Brooks.

“By bringing together research across the University’s five faculties in this way, we believe our innovation and learning can be a key driver of growth in the state and nation’s food sector, one of South Australia’s principle strategic priorities.

Professor Lowe will provide the necessary vision, leadership and focal point for the development of major new multi-disciplinary initiatives in collaboration with industry and government.”

 Professor Lowe is the second research theme leader, joining Professor Michael Webb who is Director, Defence and Security.

 Professor Lowe says the new Food Innovation theme aims to help boost South Australia’s food production and profitability, creating many new jobs, and lifting market value for Australia’s food products generally.

There are also considerable potential benefits to community health with research being undertaken on healthier food options.

 “The University has extraordinary breadth and depth in research and teaching capability with over 250 academic staff working on food-related areas, and houses the predominant expertise in South Australia,” says Prof Lowe.

“It’s not a new area for the University – our Waite campus has been leading research in plant science and breeding, landscape and soil science, wine and viticulture for decades, and more recently in food applications.

“Our Roseworthy campus is renowned for its in dryland agriculture, natural resource management and animal health and production. We have economists, engineers, health scientists and researchers in arts and social sciences working in food-related areas.

 “A more co-ordinated approach will ensure our innovative research is linked with industry partners and supported by government to help realise the benefits for all of us. We’ll be working closely with Food South Australia and the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) to build our strategy.

 “Barack Obama has just given a keynote on food security at an international food innovation conference in Italy – I think that shows the importance and level of attention food innovation is getting globally.”

 Professor Lowe, who is also Chair in Plant Conservation Biology and Deputy Dean of Partnerships and Collaboration in the Faculty of Sciences, joined the university in 2006 and leads a group of 40 scientists within the University’s Environment Institute.

Prof Lowe heads up a number of national and regional research programs. He has been responsible for more than $100 million of research funding over the past 10 years, and has extensive experience in commercialising research.

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