Break the relationship between lodging, height and yield to increase the rate of genetic gain for yield and increase the profitability of Australian sorghum growers

Request for Expression of Interest (EOI)
Break the relationship between lodging, height and yield to increase the rate of genetic gain for yield and increase the profitability of Australian sorghum growers

Sorghum is the largest summer grain crop in Australia and the fourth largest crop overall by tonnage and value and an important part of farming systems especially in Northern NSW and Queensland. Investment in sorghum genetic improvement “pre-breeding” is an important area for the GRDC and several Key Investment Targets (KITs) in the GRDC’s ‘Research, Development and Extension Plan 2018-2023” are directed at sorghum priority areas.

Reference No.
PROC-9176227
Release Date
Closing Date
Wednesday 11th of November 2020
Contact and Enquiries

Email: tenders@grdc.com.au

Attention: Justine Morgan
Grains Research and Development Corporation
Email: tenders@grdc.com.au

All requests for further information or clarification in relation to this expression of interest should be made in writing (email) prior to Wednesday 4 November 2020, 2:00pm AEDT.

All requests for further information and responses to requests will be published on the GRDC website under Questions and Answers at the bottom of this webpage and be visible to all potential respondents.

Lodgement of Expression of Interest

Respondents must submit their Proposals by email to tenders@grdc.com.au by Wednesday, 11 November 2020, at 02:00 PM ACT local time (the Closing Time) to be considered. - Proposals lodged after the Closing Time or that do not provide all the information requested may be excluded from consideration. Proposals must be in accordance with the EOI terms and conditions.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry. Learn more about what GRDC does.


Background

Sorghum is the largest summer grain crop in Australia and the fourth largest crop overall by tonnage and value. Developing approaches to break the nexus between lodging, plant height and yield was identified as a priority investment in KIT1.3 of the GRDC Research, Development and Extension Plan 2018-23.

To date genetic efforts to break the nexus between lodging, plant height and yield in sorghum have focussed on optimising water use efficiency late in crop development to manage lodging risk. The introduction of the Staygreen trait has been a good example of this approach and has allowed for incremental increases in yield to be achieved while managing the risk of lodging. However, there are experimental hybrids that out yield current commercial hybrids by up to 25%, but they are not released due to poor yield stability, largely as a result of increased lodging risk. This represents a significant brake on the rate of genetic gain for yield in sorghum. In other crops such as maize, lodging risk has been reduced by improving stalk strength. This type of approach is attractive as it has the potential to break the nexus between lodging, plant height and yield and make a transformational change to the rate of genetic gain and water limited yield potential in sorghum.

Eligibility Criteria

The Respondent must satisfy the following eligibility criteria, otherwise the Proposal will be excluded from consideration:

  1. The Respondent must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners.
  2. The Respondent and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

Evaluation Criteria

A Respondent’s Proposal will be evaluated against the criteria identified below and the overall proposition presented in the Proposal.
  1. Self-Introduction (including, if applicable, any consortium partners).
  2. A clear description of the proposed approach and timeframe to break the nexus between lodging, plant height and yield to make a transformational change to the rate of genetic gain and yield potential in sorghum.
  3. Define the specific outputs from the approach proposed in evaluation criteria 2 and demonstrate a plan to engage with commercial breeding companies to ensure the outputs are delivered in improved sorghum hybrids for Australian growers. The planned approach (2) and path to market (3) must be consistent with the crop improvement principles the GRDC applies nationally, across all crops as detailed in the request for expression of interest.
  4. Detail proposed financial and technological co-investment with national and/or international research entities, commercial breeding companies and/or commercial technology companies.
  5. Demonstrate evidence of technical capability and capacity of respondents to deliver the proposed approach as detailed in evaluation criteria 2 and 3.
  6. Provide details of the total investment required to deliver the approach outlined in evaluation criteria 2 including financial, staffing and any technical intellectual property with demonstratable freedom to operate. Detail the level of co-investment required from all investment partners including the GRDC, noting detailed budgets are NOT required.

Proposals that demonstrate significant co-investment and a willingness to work collaboratively with other national and/or international research entities, commercial breeding companies and commercial technology companies would be highly regarded.

EOI Evaluation

Respondent’s proposals will be considered by an Evaluation Committee and all respondents will be informed of the outcome of the evaluation process within 4 weeks of the application closing date.

Questions and Answers

Q1: Is an Australian partner required for a US consortium (or collaborating team) to participate?

A1: An Australian partner is not required, however the respondent’s need to demonstrate that the outputs of the proposed approach are delivered in improved sorghum hybrids to increase the profitability of  Australian growers.


Q2: Is there a time-frame (minimum or maximum number of years) to accomplish the proposed project?

A2: There is no prescribed minimum or maximum timeframe for the proposed project.


Q3: Is there an upper or lower limit for the budget/investment?

A3: There is no prescribed budget, but each proposal will be evaluated for “value for money”. Value for money is an assessment of the financial and non-financial costs and benefits including the proposed budget and the quality of the proposed approach.


Q4: Is there a minimum level (or percentage) of co-investment required from the consortium (or collaborating team)?

A4: There is no minimum level (or percentage) of co-investment required, but each proposal will be evaluated for “value for money” as described above.


Q5: The EOI says that selected respondents might be invited to participate in a subsequent process. Does that mean this EOI is a type of pre-proposal? If selected for subsequent process, how is that subsequent process? An expansion of the project details? Or a reorganization of selected teams to collaborate?

A5: The EOI is not a pre-proposal, it is part one of a two-step procurement process. At the completion of the EOI evaluation process, subject to the suitability of the applications received, the GRDC will invite a short list of respondents to a limited tender process. The scope as defined in the EOI documentation would not be expanded and individual applications are strictly confidential and would not be shared with other respondents.


Q6: What does the GRDC mean by “innovative genetic solutions”? What types of genetic solutions could be used to address the EOI?

A6: The GRDC invests in genetics and pre-breeding to accelerate the rate of genetic gain and increase the profitability of Australian grain growers. Investments in genetics and pre-breeding can include:

  1. Identifying useful genetic diversity and packaging it in a way that can be readily integrated into commercial breeding programs. Genetic diversity may exist within commercial breeding populations or be from external sources such as genebanks and pre-breeding populations.
  2. Determining the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of traits to identify the underlying genetic control.
  3. Demonstrating the value proposition of a trait to define the value that growers and breeding companies could capture, and providing information and resources for its optimal deployment.
  4. Developing high throughput, accurate, cost-efficient and reliable phenotyping tools for selection of traits in breeding programs, enabling commercial breeders to select harder and faster.
  5. Support the development and adoption of new genetic, analytical and breeding technologies (e.g. doubled haploids, comparative genomics, genomic selection, etc) to be used by commercial breeding companies to accelerate their rate of genetic gain.

Please note this is not an exhaustive list and individual points are not mutually exclusive. For example determining the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of traits to identify the underlying genetic control (2) could be combined with novel genetic technologies (5) to allow for beneficial manipulation of the genetic control of the trait by commercial breeding programs and accelerated deployment of commercial hybrids to growers.


Q7: Is it possible that GRDC would fund multiple tenders provided by different parties in response to this EOI?

A7: It is possible that the GRDC would invest in multiple approaches from different parties to address the EOI.


Q8: Clause 6.4  a and b [of EOI Terms] can you say more

A8: Clause 6.4 defines the ownership status of any IP and the use of information contained in respondents proposals. Intellectual property owned by the respondent or third parties will not pass to the GRDC. The GRDC only has the right to use information in a respondents proposal for the purposes of conducting the EOI and in preparation of any contract is the respondent is successful.


Q9: If one company has great idea does it go out to all tenders

A9: No, a great idea from one respondent would not go out to all respondents as information contained in a respondents proposal is confidential.


Q10: Will GRDC attempt to create partnerships that were not included in the original tender submission.

A10: If the GRDC believes that there is value in combining the approaches of multiple respondents there may be an opportunity to encourage respondents to talk to each other. We would not mandate such an arrangement, nor would we divulge any information from the EOI proposals to other respondents or any other third party. Any combined approach from multiple respondents would be entirely at the discretion of the individual respondents.


Q11: If we provide information in a tender can GRDC use that information to improve or inform other tenders? / Are EOIs confidential? Will GRDC sign a confidentiality agreement?

A11: All information provided in the EOI is confidential and is treated in the same way as a response to an open tender. Information is not shared with other respondents or third parties. Information is only shared internally by the GRDC for the purposes of the running the Expression of Interest and to facilitate the evaluation process. The GRDC would not sign a confidentiality agreement as this is already addressed in clause 6.4 of the EOI terms and conditions. GRDC is required to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). Clause 7.24 of the CPRs provide that submissions must be treated as confidential before and after the awarding of a contract. Once a contract has been awarded, the terms of the contract, including parts of the contract drawn from the supplier’s submission, are not confidential unless the relevant entity (GRDC) has determined and identified in the contract that specific information is to be kept confidential in accordance with the ‘confidentiality test’ set out in the guidance on Confidentiality Throughout the Procurement Cycle.


Q12: Is there a maximum duration of project proposals?

A12: No there is no maximum or minimum duration for proposals, the duration is essentially what is technically required to address the EOI.


Q13: Can you tell me if partial tenders accepting a single component are accepted

A13: Yes, submitting a partial tender to address a single component of the EOI is acceptable.


An Information session was held on 15 October 2020. The presentation and transcript can be accessed below: