March (No. 494)
$20m proposal to build research 'nucleus'
The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has put a proposal to the South Australian Government seeking part-funding in a bid to upgrade its existing structure at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.
AWRI managing director, Sakkie Pretorius, said the AWRI, which would celebrate its 50th anniversary during 2005, had outgrown the existing facility with older parts of the building near to “falling apart”.
“Part of my role since joining the AWRI two years ago has been to create a master plan which would identify how large an organisation the AWRI wished to be, and what infrastructure would be needed to achieve these needs and support our business plan,” Pretorius said.
In consultation with Adelaide University, Provisor, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and CSIRO Plant and Industry, the AWRI developed several funding options which would enable the Institute to replace its existing building, plus build a larger facility to accommodate these other research bodies.
“The most cost-effective structure would link into the existing CSIRO building, not duplicate the facilities of others,” Pretorius said.
Pretorius said it was important Australia invest in research and development because Australia’s competitors were certainly active in this regard. He said France, Germany and California were all investing millions of dollars to fund wine industry R&D projects.
“If Australia wants to maintain its wine leadership role and upgrade its facilities to get the job done and also to attract the best people, it needs good facilities,” Pretorious said.
“We have not gone to Government begging for a hand-out, we have approached Government for a portion of the funds required.”
Pretorius said the proposal for the total upgrade was worth $20 million.
Former CRC Wine bid committee chairman, Chris Hancock, welcomed the AWRI proposal and said it would present an opportunity for industry to bring its research and development providers into a central building as a nucleus for research work.
“The opportunity to consolidate in one building with other research providers, offers opportunity particularly in cross-fertilisation of research, and in research and teaching,” Hancock said.