Ruth’s Review: Three new CRCs announced


Have you considered a board role on a CRC? They are generally professionally run, with appropriate governance structures and pay their directors. And the good news is three new CRCs have just been announced. But what are they all about?


The federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program supports Australian industries’ ability to compete and produce.  

WOB has had a long association with the CRC (Cooperative Research Centres) Association, as it made efforts under former CEO Dr Tony Peacock to increase the numbers of women participating in this area. The new CEO is Dr Jane Dwyer – that’s progress.

WOB members are participants on the boards of some CRCs. Katherine Woodthorpe AO chairs the Bushfires and Natural Hazards and has been the chair of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC. A Sydney WOBSX syndicate is named after her.

On 30 June, three new CRCs were announced. They are:

  • Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition (HILT) CRC
  • Digital Finance CRC
  • Marine Bioproducts CRC

At writing, Race for 2030 is looking for an Independent Non-Executive Director. The position is advertised HERE on the WOB - Find a Board Position page.

So what are the new CRCs all about?


The Heavy Industry Low-Carbon Transition (HILT) CRC has been awarded funding in Round 22. Professor Gus Nathan is the Research Director, and Susan Jeanes, the Chair. 

HILT CRC will enable our heavy industry sector to compete in the low-carbon global economy for carbon-neutral materials such as ‘green’ iron, alumina, cement and other processed minerals.

In talking to the CRC Association, Susan stressed the importance of the value proposition for Industry. “We can show that decarbonisation is actually good business because it taps into Australia’s competitive advantage,” she said.

CEO Gus Nathan said: “Australian industry has the potential to attract a disproportional share of the estimated $5 trillion of global investment needed to transform the sector to carbon neutral by 2050, because of the coincidence of our mineral and renewable energy resources. 

“Although it costs more to make a low carbon material, the impact of the final product is very small. For example, decarbonised cement may be almost double the cost of cement with current technology, but the cost of a green building is only a few per cent extra.”

Digital Finance CRC (DFCRC) 

The Digital Finance CRC brings together a unique group of stakeholders in fintech, industry, research, and regulation to develop and commercially exploit the huge opportunities arising from the next transformation of the financial markets.

Its CEO-elect is Dr Andreas Furche who spoke to the CRC Association: “The CRC will ensure Australia is ready to take advantage of the next transformation of the financial markets which will see the universal digitisation of all assets so they can be traded and exchanged directly and in real-time between any individual or organisation,” he said.

“Digitised assets have come of age. This lays the groundwork for the new world of digital finance which is going to be the next generation of economic Interaction.

“The basic technology for the creation and exchange of digital assets has been around since the mid-1990s but created relatively little impact for a while. With Blockchain coming up as another key technology to create digital assets and asset registers, people are now paying more attention to the changes this can make in financial interactions.

“You can create digital coins, you can create digital certificates or tokens directly representing the ownership of real-world assets, and then instantly buy or sell them. You could even include graphics to increase the analogy – ownership of the token means ownership of the asset. And once you’ve got that, you can change how you invest, what you can invest in, you can also change what you sell, and how you sell it.

“The entire internet instantly becomes one effective, efficient global financial marketplace.” 

Marine Bioproducts CRC

Harnessing the ocean to grow a new industry, the Marine Bioproducts CRC (MB-CRC) is the third of the successful bids in Round 22. Its Chair is John Gunn.

Australia’s vast marine estate has supported food production from commercial fisheries for more than a century, with aquaculture emerging as a major industry in the last 30 years.

Until recently however, we have not capitalized on the huge potential outside of food production from the broad range of other species in our uniquely biodiverse, clean and green coastal waters.   

“The MB-CRC is set to revolutionize the way we utilize these rich natural marine assets,” said Mr Gunn. “The CRC’s innovative R&D programs will focus on production of new sources of marine biomass such as seaweeds, marine micro-algae and filter feeding animals and the use of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to produce a suite of novel bioproducts.”

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