FORMER Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Richard Norton has been appointed to a new position as the chief executive officer for the Food Agility CRC.
Mr Norton’s most recent role was with Elders as general manager for farm supplies, before he left the company suddenly in October.
He will take up the reins at the Food Agility CRC on February 1.
The Food Agility CRC is a $150 million Cooperative Research Centre which brokers partnerships between agrifood, technology and research organisations. Together the partners do research that creates scalable, data-driven digital solutions for the Australian agrifood industry.
The partnership network spans the Australian agrifood and agtech industries and includes eight universities.
The CRC says its mission is to “unlock the power of data, digital and research to create a sustainable food future for producers, consumers and communities.”
One of the centre’s most prominent industry-facing projects is the EvokeAg ag technology event, last held in February last year.
At MLA, Mr Norton oversaw an annual research and development budget of up to $220 million and the creation of the Integrity Systems Company, a “digital traceability system that underpins trust in the red meat sector.”
Earlier in his career path he was a director of Agrium Asia Pacific, managing director of Landmark Operations and chairman of Integrated Traceability Solutions.
Mr Norton said he had been attracted to the CTC role because of the “incredible capability within the team and board, as well as Food Agility’s purpose and approach.”
“Globally, markets and investors are demanding evidence of climate action. Data and digital will be key in meeting those demands and differentiating the Australian brand in the global food marketplace,” Mr Norton said.
“At home, poor connectivity in regional Australia is one of the greatest barriers to productivity. The future of our agrifood industry will depend on breaking down that barrier to drive data sharing and digital adoption.
“They are big challenges, requiring new approaches to innovation; old R&D models won’t work. I’m excited by the agile, design-led methods Food Agility is bringing to the research sector,” he said.
Food Agility CRC chair Dr Anne Astin said there had been a high calibre of applications for the role.
“Ultimately, it was Richard’s deep expertise in the agrifood sector, including in digital innovation, as well as his track record as an organisational leader, that impressed the board,” she said.
“Richard brings a strong commercial lens that will be critical as Food Agility focuses on building scalable pathways to get research out of universities and into industry.”
Dr Astin extended her thanks to outgoing chief executive Dr Mike Briers for his leadership over the past three years.
Dr Briers announced in October last year that he would step down as CEO as part of a planned transition.