Accelerating Genetic Gain Strategic Initiative

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) invests in RD&E for the enduring profitability of Australian grain growers.

GRDC is seeking co-investment for $20 million of targeted research and development investment that will deliver a step change in the genetic gain of Australian grain crops.

This Initiative, through national and global partnerships, will position Australia as a global leader in the development and deployment of advanced breeding technologies.

How it will work?

The Accelerating Genetic Gain Strategic Initiative will be run through a two-phase process:

Phase 1 – Global Engagement
GRDC will engage with the national and international research and breeding community to broadly define investment opportunities and priorities for Phase 2.

Phase 2 – Expression of interest
GRDC will run competitive two-stage EOI processes to identify and engage co-investment partners to deliver on investment priorities.

GRCD will, through these competitive process, co-invest in multiple national and global partnerships. GRDC can invest in a range of ways including public-private partnerships, commercial deployment arrangements, and joint investments with international funding bodies. While Australian grain growers must be the primary beneficiaries of GRDC investment, benefits can flow to other groups or regions too.

The indicative timeline for the process is as follows:

Phase 1 – Global Engagement

  • Closed 11 October 2023

Phase 2 – Expression of interest (EOI), NOTE: Change in dates

  • EOI Stage 1: Open now, see here.
  • EOI Stage 2: Open from August 2024, closes December 2024
  • Projects will commence from April 2025.

There may be more than one EOI round.

What is the Initiative scope?

The target crops for the Initiative are Australia’s three largest grain crops: wheat, barley and canola. However, ideas related to other grain crops such as chickpeas, oats, sorghum, corn and lentils may be submitted.

Ideas for investment focus under the Accelerating Genetic Gain Strategic Initiative may fall in the following areas, but are not limited to:

  1. Improved predictive breeding to manage genetic complexity. For example, applying crop models, improved imputation methods, optimum contribution selection and evolutionary computing.
  2. Creating and using genetic diversity. For example, unlocking the potential of genome editing, improved transformation systems, improved trait introgression, and more effective use of wild relatives for Australian crop improvement.
  3. Exploiting heterosis. For example, defining and optimizing heterotic groups for wheat and canola.
  4. Developing accelerated breeding systems. For example, platform technologies such as cost-effective doubled haploids, apomixis, improved crossing efficiency and others.

Why now?

GRDC has always invested in crop genetic improvement because of its material and strategic importance. This has been done through targeted pre-breeding and breeding research, and the deployment of new breeding technologies. Crop improvement continues to be an important focus in GRDC’s new RD&E Plan 2023-28 including increasing investment to assist Australian grain growers to reach new production frontiers.

While GRDC has had success in co-investing with research partners in crop improvement innovation, it is clear that a step change in breeding technologies will be required to deliver further significant increases in yield against a backdrop of climate change, input constraints and increasing market instability.

How can I be involved?

To be notified of the Expression of Interest calls, please subscribe to Tenders.