Lamb Production

Sheep CRC story ‘a road map for high-impact research’

Sheep Central, October 14, 2019

Former Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe talks at the book launch, with Helen Cathles, left, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, and John Keniry.

A HISTORY of Australia’s Sheep CRC has been lauded as a potential road map for other industries to deliver high-impact research.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews launched the book ‘Concept to Impact: The story of the Sheep CRC 2001–2019’ in Canberra today.

The Sheep CRC or Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre was funded for three terms of operation from 2001 — when the Australian sheep industry was in dire straits – until 2019, when it is now worth more than $8.6 billion per year to the economy.

Minister Andrews said the dramatic turnaround was achieved despite the national flock decreasing in size by more than 40 percent over this period – on a ‘per sheep’ basis the real gross value of production has increased 2.6-fold.

“While many factors have contributed to its change in fortunes, it cannot be disputed that one of the major drivers has been the work of the Sheep CRC in delivering transformational new technologies.

“The Australian sheep industry has become a global leader in the use of genomic technologies to enhance productivity, has embraced the big data revolution with new predictive apps, and is delivering consumers with eating experiences that are second to none,” she said.

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said the book, Concept to Impact: The story of the Sheep CRC 2001–2019, captured the scale of the industry collaboration and resulting transformation.

“While many factors contributed to this economic boom for the Australian sheep industry, it is safe to say that it hasn’t happened by chance.

“Transformational industry change like this requires vision, clear objectives, a well thought out strategy and adaptable tactics to deliver real impact,” Prof. Rowe said.

“Everything that the Sheep CRC did was driven by an understanding of consumer preferences and industry needs so that we could enable the entire value chain to profit from delivering wool and meat products that consistently surpassed these expectations.”

Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association said that he hoped the book would provide a useful roadmap for other industries and research organisations to follow in delivering high-impact research for the Australian economy.

Dr Peacock said a good example was the Drought Future Fund – this complex national program would benefit from the principles established in the CRC Program to ensure a clear strategy based on collaboration and co-investment amongst stakeholders.

“Since the early 1990s when the CRC Program was created the processes in managing the Program have continued to evolve around the need to engage industry end-users in the collaboration and the importance of supporting innovation development through parallel education and training programs.  There is increasing evidence that this CRC approach works to deliver integrated programs that have national impact,” he said.

And while the Sheep CRC came to a close on 30 June 2019, sheep industry leaders are planning a forum to develop a new collaborative research organisation to continue the transformation into the future.

The book is available by contacting Polly Ward ([email protected]) before 25 October.  After that date an electronic download will be available ( or hard copies via


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