Rural Economies Centre of Excellence
Established with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in 2018 for an initial 3 year period with combined funding of $3.6m, RECoE is applied research consortium focused on strengthening the economic resilience of Queensland’s rural communities.
RECoE research aims to achieve positive impact in rural community development, deepening and diversifying regional economies, and informing government policy to achieve a thriving and internationally competitive rural economy. We undertake a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing regional and rural economic problems and opportunities, providing solutions that integrate the economics of innovation with world-leading technical expertise on regional economic development and agriculture.
Our 20 research projects across Queensland align with five major themes. Each of theses themes draws from widespread industry and government engagement to investigate crucial economic hurdles that outline rural development: water resources, tourism, energy and climate changes, supply and value chain design (beef, horticulture and aquaculture), entrepreneurship and innovation, workforce, investment and policy.
Themes, research teams and programs
The rural economy is vulnerable to changing markets and climate creating either high or low regional resources, making an innovative team of expertise vital to managing and preparing for uncertainty.
As agriculture continuously evolves, traditional business models in agriculture and related industries focused on farm production with limited market intelligence and value chain development are out-dated. Innovative business models and integrated value chains are needed for the development of new markets, global trades and to meet the ever-changing consumer demands.
Regional Innovation research includes:
- identifying market opportunities for the supply of high value export products, especially in Asia and understanding those markets
- using new science and technologies to increase the value of agricultural products by value-adding
- creating innovative products aimed at new markets developed from ideas, technologies and practices
- expanding export by analysing large data to better match new products with increased business prospects
- developing an innovative agricultural business model (including finance) by examining changes
- attracting new stakeholders with new and improved business models.
- strengthening women’s ideas, research and business dreams with Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Enterprises (WiRE), directed by Professor Retha Wiesner.
- Dr. Geoff Woolcock has launched a campaign called Head Yakka to strengthen mental health and wellbeing in communities with Outback Futures. The campaign is aimed at all people and communities to facilitate thoughts and ideas (HEAD) with the capacity to work hard (YAKKA) to create meaningful change as a result of conversation with a common purpose, activity and outcome.
The RECoE is modelling and implementing a policy framework that supports and enables economic development in rural areas. The aim is to provide a comprehensive and integrated rural policy framework by assessing the impact of policy and identifying areas for improvement through evidence base for a more synchronised and empowering policy.
The RECoE aims to build on existing Queensland rural policy frameworks in place under the State Government’s Our Future State: Advancing Queensland’s Priorities Plan (2018), based on global, national and state trends to better support the Queensland government and rural communities.
Further information on policy development for regional Queensland is available.
While many rural areas are in economic decline and transition, opportunities for major economic growth exist and the potential is not being fully explored. With business acumen and business culture generally being poor in regional areas, farmers rely on an episodic agricultural economy base. Basic economic infrastructure such as digital connectivity is limited with low digital literacy. Some communities have experienced a resource industry boom followed by a low. Tourism is growing and becoming a key addition to the economic sector, but few businesses are developing and expanding into tourism.
Research is focused on better understanding how communities can:
- develop the digital economy
- diversify local economies into sectors such as tourism
- attracted workers to rural communities
- assess the regional economic impact of irrigation
- ensuring the RECoE is closely engaged with stakeholders and its work translates into economic impact in regions.
Further information on economy tools is available.
A key role for RECoE is to analyse the translation processes of research program outcomes, and for rural stakeholders to develop economic resilience from these findings. Processes of diffusion and translation investigated areas are:
- Outcomes if rural stakeholders were to access the economic knowledge and skills available.
- How would stakeholders prefer to access new information to learn more about economic growth.
- Find the best way to share information to financial practitioners and community leaders to expand options available to them.
- How to integrate expert knowledge and intuitive knowledge and experience.
- Translating financial analysis and knowledge in such a way the benefits impact at ground level.
- Finding the key relationship areas in rural innovation trajectories and the pivotal factors shaping their performance.
- The macadamia benchmark project, aiming to support improved productivity and profitability within the Australian macadamia industry.
Further information on translation and engagement is available.
A major component to rural economies is the development of value chains in agriculture. Within the development of integrated value chains sits the opportunity to align agricultural products with specified markets. Detailed planning, organisation and implementation allow for better access to diverse markets and with market research analysed, quality standards are better met. This results in higher value being gained from agricultural products, develops new markets with the producer having an increased rate of product worth. This is particularly relevant as consumer demands and prospects evolve while access to the global market widens and supply chains become more vertically integrated.
Value chain research includes:
- developing innovative agricultural production systems and value chains while establishing relationships with reinvented manufacturers
- promoting market innovation in identifying new high value market opportunities with new products
- sponsoring produce and fibre progression
- understanding investment attraction to find opportunities to align with innovative business models
- supporting profitable new concepts, products and technologies
- discovering new economic opportunities that allow for agricultural environment adaptation and change
- impart innovations established by manufacturers and researchers.
The Regional Community Development Program, develops and conducts community-partnered research and practice to:
- Improve the social and economic vitality of regional communities.
- Contribute to understanding and knowledge of regional community development.
- working closely with community members to incorporate research in an appropriate, respectful and useful way. We conduct research in partnership with rural people, invest in relationships, use appropriate research methods and follow up after activities in communities.
- investing in relationships with community members and a range of rural community, government, corporate and philanthropic stakeholders.
- developing and conducting projects that address key issues and opportunities in communities.