Charles Sturt University’s commitment to research and support of the Australian grape and wine industry is set to be bolstered with the establishment of the Agriculture, Water and Environment (AWE) Institute.
The strategic investment in the AWE Institute builds on the foundations laid by more than 45 years of viticulture and oenology education and more than 24 years of world-class research at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC).
From January 2022, the AWE Institute will drive research outcomes that optimise viticulture and farming systems and enhance the health of freshwater ecosystems.
It will employ more than 20 new research-only positions and invest in dedicated business development support to enhance the University’s ability to secure funding for research projects.
Charles Sturt University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Michael Friend said the AWE Institute will enhance collaboration across industry sectors and build on Charles Sturt University’s existing research strengths in viticulture and wine science, agriculture, water and the environment.
“The AWE Institute will centralise not only existing research but also the funding opportunities for future projects so that Charles Sturt University and its partners can produce more impactful research which benefits regional Australia,” Professor Friend said.
This project is the latest in almost $40 million realised this year for AWE research and partnerships involving Charles Sturt, including the Global Digital Farm to be built in collaboration with Food Agility Co-operative Research Centre which includes the upgrading of the University’s research and teaching vineyard.
The University’s research partnerships with the NSW Wine Industry Association (NSW WIA) and NSW Department of Primary Industry (NSW DPI) will continue within the AWE Institute.
The NSW WIA will continue to work closely with Charles Sturt with a new Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the framework for collaborations between the two organisations.
President of the NSW WIA, Mark Bourne commented, “The establishment of the AWE Institute at Charles Sturt University is welcome and exciting news, that strengthens the University’s bonds and connections with the wine industry through further investment in our future. We look forward to growing our long-standing partnership with Charles Sturt through the new institute.”
Charles Sturt recognises that the future prosperity of agriculture is linked to research focused on regional priorities and outcomes that deliver solutions that are readily adopted by rural industries.
Support for research facilities including the experimental winery, glasshouses, dedicated laboratories and vineyards will be maintained in the new AWE Institute and will continue to play an important role for the teaching programs in viticulture and wine science.
The NWGIC will continue to operate until the end of 2021 and all funded research will continue to be supported from 2022 within the AWE Institute or at the University.