More than $5 million has been provided for an Australian medical cannabis innovation research and training project.
Funded by the Australian Government’s Regional Research Collaboration Program, La Trobe University will lead the project alongside partners Cann Group, PharmOut, Photon Systems Instruments and SpexAI.
The project will hone approaches to critical aspects of medicinal cannabis plant health.
“It will enable us to optimise harvest times, reduce nutrient and watering regimes, and respond quickly to pathogens like viruses and insects – all leading to a healthier, more sustainable and productive crop,” said Project lead Professor Tony Bacic.
It won’t just be the medicinal cannabis sector to benefit.
“This project – using medicinal cannabis as the case study – will benefit the nation’s entire agricultural industry, playing a key role in producing plant-based medicines, and more sustainably feeding the global population,” said La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO.
The ‘Next Generation protected cropping in a regional manufacturing facility’ project was formally announced by Minister Bridget McKenzie last week, who among other portfolios is the Minister for Regional Education.
“Australia produces world-class research, and we want our regions to contribute to that proud tradition as well as reap the benefits from it, creating more resilient regional economies,” Minister McKenzie said.
The project is one of five to be funded under the Coalition Government’s Regional Research Collaboration program.
State-of-the-art technology at Cann Group’s facility near Mildura will play a crucial role in the project – the facility incorporates a closed system micro-climate controlled glasshouse to optimise plant growth. Claimed to be the most technologically advanced large-scale medicinal cannabis cultivation and production facility in Australia, after a series of setbacks Cann Group announced last month completion of works in the facility’s cultivation areas.
The project will be led from La Trobe University’s Australian Research Council Industry Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub) based at AgriBio in Bundoora, Melbourne. The Hub aims to transform the production of high quality, plant derived therapeutics into an integrated, Australia-wide industry.
$66.8 million was committed over 5 years to the Regional Research Collaboration (RRC) Program. Applications for Round Two closed on March 22.