Dr Pat Blackall

Dr Pat Blackall

Welcome to another edition of eChook. I am writing to you in my capacity as the inaugural chairman of the Industry Committee of Poultry Hub Australia, the transition body of the Poultry CRC.

The Poultry CRC will cease to exist on 30 June 2017 after 14 years of operation at UNE. It has been a highly successful CRC, providing solutions to numerous key challenges facing the Australian poultry industry in the areas of research, education, communication, and outreach activities.  A brief overview of how the CRC has addressed the challenges of ensuring the advancement and long term sustainability of the poultry industry would cover the following:

  1. Frontier science and state-of-the-art innovations. By investing in over 170 research projects, the Poultry CRC has dealt with many pressing industry issues. One example is the Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health which, with the support of the Poultry CRC, now has more than 30 rapid tests, providing industry with a one-stop shop for rapid diagnosis and enhanced disease surveillance. Turning to innovations, at the peak of its holdings, the CRC had 57 patents, making Australia the envy of the world in poultry science.
  2. Future leaders and workforce. We have supported 16 interns, 25 postdoctoral fellows, 77 postgraduate students, and 33 honours students, as well as hundreds of students who have undertaken our three poultry specific undergraduate courses. These new industry entrants have significantly reduced the skills shortage in the Australian poultry industry that existed when the CRC started, and will be a source of industry leadership and essential skills for many years to come.
  3. National network with global leverage. Industry support for a Poultry CRC transition body is strong and is propelled by our tremendous collaborative network, which is mature, genuine and effective. The collective expertise of the network generates innovative and unique research initiatives. It solves the problem of critical mass, where no single research institute in Australia has the expertise and facilities to solve the complex scientific and industrial problems the industry will face in the future.

This is the reason why our industry partners have given strong support to set up a transition body to ensure that the Poultry CRC’s legacies continue. Poultry Hub Australia has been set up as a semi-autonomous body under the University of New England with authority to manage its own branding, contracting, financial delegation, and human resources. These elements are seen as essential by the Australian poultry industry because flexibility and timeliness in response to industry issues are the two key requirements for a body like PHA to succeed. In addition, PHA will be open to any research provider that has the expertise and facilities to provide solutions to industry challenges in a timely and cost-effective manner.

I will provide you with more information as it becomes available in the future.

Dr Pat Blackall