From the Chief Scientist/CEO (July 2020)

New initiatives

The Board recently approved a Kickstart fund as part of the 2020/21 Annual Budget. With more details to appear in the coming weeks, the overall aim of the Kickstart fund is to provide seed funding/support funding for organisations to allow for the preparation and submission of specific, targeted major funding applications that would leverage APRIL’s funds (and those of other investors) in line with the Strategic Plan. Significant external funding pools exist both nationally and internationally for potential investment in APRIL’s core activities of research and development, education and training, and commercialisation. It is hoped that the Kickstart fund will increase the number of these applications that are prepared and submitted to ultimately increase the funding pool to undertake more of APRIL’s activities.

APRIL will also announce a funding call for applications for Innovation Projects in the coming weeks. APRIL wants to be seen as a catalyst for innovation and a key co-funder of research and development for the overall benefit of Australasia’s pork industry. Innovation Projects must clearly demonstrate originality, uniqueness and creativity, establish new concepts or challenge existing ones, address significant challenges or critical barriers to progress, and be able to improve or apply new theoretical concepts, methodologies or tools to benefit industry.

APRIL Innovation Projects are negotiable to around 12 to 15 months, have a maximum budget of $50,000 to $75,000, and require a minimum external cash co-investment of 25% of the total cash cost of the project.

Commercialisation Projects

APRIL’s Commercialisation Projects scheme is open all year round. Commercialisation Projects address the issue where the path to market of a product or technology may be close and additional co-investment, that would commonly include other investors, may bring it to fruition. Such projects require a co-investment external contribution of 20% of the total cash project cost, which is negotiable. Duration is also negotiable if beyond 12-18 months. Commercialisation income is a clear imperative for the future of APRIL, hence supporting industry-applicable projects in this domain is critical.

COVID-19 Update

The current coronavirus pandemic continues, unfortunately, to impact on some of APRIL’s activities. APRIL remains in contact with all Project Leaders regarding impacts of COVID-19 that might affect the progress of their project(s). Unavoidably, delays/disruption for some of our projects have occurred and will likely do so into the future. These, in turn, will affect milestones and deliverables and the communication of outcomes to the industry.

Research Project Reporting

Project Leaders should be aware that being awarded a research project with APRIL comes with it a number of contractual responsibilities, namely a quarterly Progress Report and a quarterly Cash Expenditure Report (from the Project Leader’s organisation). With an increasing number of projects having commenced or coming onboard soon, coupled to the rapidly changing developments associated with COVID-19, it is important for us to suitably monitor projects and be able to respond to any issues that might arise in a timely manner, e.g., requests for variations. I send a reminder out every quarter about this and will continue to do so as I appreciate that our researchers are very busy. Funds will not be paid against a project without an approved quarterly Progress Report that details progress against milestones and deliverables, and a Cash Expenditure Report.

Finally, and as mentioned previously, we would welcome receiving APRIL-related information and upcoming events from our Members for possible inclusion in the Newsletter [subject to space (preferred length is 100-150 words) and content], as this as an important communication forum between Members also. Please note though that news of APRIL activities has priority, and items of an advertorial nature are not permitted.

John Pluske (