Innovation pilots

Science Commercialisation Partnerships (SCP) is testing multiple approaches to partnering – from traditional approaches like licensing and contracting, to non-traditional approaches like regional innovation clusters and graduate-industry programs for universities.

Scroll down to find out more about our innovation pilots.

Nano-products for clean, green farming

Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology is developing nano products for sustainable farming

Population growth, less agricultural land and changing climate increase pressure on farmers to produce more with less. A conventional approach to raising yields is by increased application of synthetic fertiliser and plant protection products – but this is a growing problem for ecosystem health, greenhouse gas emissions and food safety.

Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology have developed novel nano products using biodegradable material from agricultural waste. When used in fertiliser production, they can create a more climate-resilient, environmentally friendly alternative.

Plant nutrients are integrated into the nanostructures, allowing slow release throughout the growing season. The natural coating material also retains water, for continued release to plants and could also carry products to combat plant pests and diseases.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Reduce soil and water pollution from synthetic chemicals
  • High yields and profit margins for farmers
  • Efficient, climate-hardy production tools

Maximising quality and quantity for potato processing

Vietnam National University of Agriculture is producing high-yielding, disease-free potatoes for market

Potato is a versatile winter crop that can follow rice crops in the Red River delta. However, potato seeds available in Vietnam are often of unpredictable quality or are susceptible to diseases, creating a supply challenge for chip processors.

Vietnam National University of Agriculture’s Institute of Agriculture Biology and its commercial partner are cultivating and producing high-yielding, disease-free potatoes to meet industrial potato chip requirements.

VNUA’s value chain maximises quantity and quality in production and is sharing benefits and risks with commercial and farming partners.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Commercial quality, less expensive seedlings for chip processing
  • Creation of a new value chain for local food industry
  • Additional income for farmers in non-rice season.

Expanding sustainable approaches for premium pork

Vietnam Climate Innovation Center and Nguyen Khoi Farm have developed innovative, sustainable practices for organic pork production.

Pork accounts for around 75% of Vietnam’s domestic meat consumption and is valued at around AUD 5.6 billion. The pork industry relies on small-scale producers across the country who need to balance farm productivity, environmental sustainability, food quality and safety.

Recent external shocks (including COVID-19 and African Swine Fever) have created market opportunities for sustainable and local pork products.

A new circular economy approach for organic pig farming recycles waste into household biogas, water for crops and earthworms for soil health and pig feed. The sustainable approach reduces risk and offers a high value product for a growing domestic market.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Reduced environmental waste and improved soil condition
  • Lower investment risk for farmers
  • Premium local product to meet high end demand

Water monitoring technology for sustainable aquaculture

Can Tho University is creating data-driven water quality technology for Mekong aquaculture

The Mekong Delta produces over 65% of Vietnam’s income from seafood. Aquaculture contributes to food and nutrition security, employment and trade. To meet growing demand, producers need to manage increasing risk of water contamination and animal toxicity. Imported water quality sensors are available but are too expensive for most farmers and provide inaccurate readings unless regularly maintained.

Can Tho University has created a real-time monitoring system for water quality that is a low maintenance, more affordable alternative to imported monitors available in Vietnam.

Researchers are now developing a sensor that self-cleans for toxic nitrates and a digital expert system that processes water quality data and provides expert advice on remediation.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Affordable, domestic product to address water quality
  • Reduced pollutants improve seafood quality, benefiting human health and farmer livelihoods
  • Real-time alerts for environmental and production risks

Labour-saving technology for shrimp processing

Can Tho University is creating accurate, automated technology for Mekong shrimp processing

Vietnam is one of the top producers and exporters of shrimp in the world. More than 900,000 tonnes are farmed annually in the Mekong Delta.

Processing is labour-intensive and is undertaken by mostly female workers in cold, wet working conditions. Shrimp de-heading is done manually in most companies. Removing only the shell and retaining flesh in the head is critical for meeting quality and flavour requirements.

Can Tho University has created prototype sensor technology that mimics processing by hand. This automated system minimises waste, saves labour and time, optimises food safety and has the potential to open new markets for the shrimp industry.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Mechanised processing addresses growing labour shortages
  • Sensor system improves meat ratio and reduces waste
  • Technology has potential to improve industry competitiveness

Innovation for dragon fruit processing

Vietnam National University of Agriculture is developing novel processing technology for the fruit industry

Fresh dragon fruit is the leading fruit export of Vietnam, accounting for 32% of the total value of fruit and vegetables sold overseas. Dragon fruit earns its commercial appeal from high nutrition, and distinct taste and appearance.

Highly perishable fruit and a peak harvest season in high temperatures and humidity result in post-harvest losses of up to 30%. To address this, Vietnam National University of Agriculture has developed innovative processing to add value to fruit harvests.

Researchers can produce jam, wine, natural colouring and pectin from dragon fruit without artificial additives. Fruit by-products are also being used to maximise value, minimise waste and increase farmer incomes.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Increased profits for fruit farmers
  • Reduced food loss and waste
  • Novel food and beverage products for local and international markets

Bio-remediation for water and soil pollution

Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology is developing innovative biological solutions to oil contamination in agriculture and aquaculture

Water pollution impacts agriculture and aquaculture enterprises, human well-being and livelihoods, and environmental health and resilience. Aquaculture in coastal areas of Vietnam is particularly susceptible to water pollution, impacting both quality and quantity of shrimp and fish.

Researchers at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology have developed an innovative and environmentally friendly solution to oil pollution in both water and soil.

Biochar produced from crop by-products (such as rice husks) is used to create a film to support communities of microorganisms. The biochar absorbs oil and other contaminants and the embedded microorganisms consume the oil as a food source.

Benefits from this pilot include:

  • Environmentally friendly solution for oil decontamination
  • Lower cost encourages widespread use
  • Technology also applicable for oil and gas industry

Helping the shrimp industry innovate for sustainability and growth

Mekong Aquaculture Innovation Cluster and Can Tho University are helping the shrimp industry innovate for sustainability and growth

The Mekong Aquaculture Innovation Cluster, launched in May 2022, is an initiative by the Aus4Innovation program in partnership with Can Tho University to support Vietnam’s 2045 Vision for Sustainable Development in the Mekong Delta. The Cluster, hosted by Can Tho University, aims to stimulate innovation and create a competitive advantage for shrimp aquaculture through circular economy, digital transformation, green growth, and climate action.

The Mekong Delta contributes to 50 percent of Vietnam’s rice production, 70 percent of aquaculture and a third of overall GDP. But climate change, water scarcity and pollution are fraying the fabric of economic life in the delta. The cluster will connect diverse stakeholders to facilitate high-quality, sustainable aquaculture, regional brand-building and enhanced livelihoods in the region.

With the focus on circular economy, digital transformation, green growth and climate action for shrimp aquaculture, the cluster is now the platform of 270+ members, 19 core coordinators and 46 co-operators from business, provincial government, households, large and small farmer cooperatives and researchers.

Creating a competitive brand for Central Highlands agriculture

The Central Highlands Innovation Cluster brings together research, business, community and government to develop and promote competitive branding for the region’s industrial agricultural products based on innovation and a shared purpose.

Vietnam’s Central Highlands region is a major agricultural hub, known in particular for production of high value crops such as coffee, pepper, tea and fruit. Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter in the world and 95% of its coffee is from the Central Highlands.

While recent rapid growth in agriculture has improved income and livelihoods for many in the region, its export focus leaves it vulnerable to market fluctuations. Innovation can help the region’s agri-food sector respond to productivity, processing and quality challenges, build resilience to external shocks (such as market or climate pressures) and strengthen its international brand.

Through its local partner, the Community Development Center, Aus4Innovation is establishing a forum for local researchers, businesses, government, farmers and associations to convene and co-develop solutions to industry challenges and opportunities.

The Innovation Cluster will harness the ideas and skills of its members, build synergies around joint innovation opportunities, and invite technology transfer and knowledge exchange to support inclusive regional growth.

Initial activities for the Innovation Cluster include: creating a strong member network; prioritising joint goals and needs; co-developing innovation activities; and identifying training and mentoring for agreed capacity gaps and challenges.

Building resilience and collaboration in northern horticulture

The Horticulture Innovation Club is connecting agribusinesses and researchers to jointly address external shocks to the temperate fruit industry in Vietnam’s northern provinces.

Vietnam’s horticulture sector has enjoyed strong growth in recent years, in response to increased export and domestic demand. Innovation in production and processing are creating value chain efficiency and new market opportunities.

Rapid and long-term external shocks such as climate change, COVID-19, natural disasters, price volatility and pests and disease are barriers for the industry to grow and expand. SMEs are vulnerable to shocks and face challenges to their resilience, including limited access to information networks, finance, risk management options, cost-effective technology solutions and technical capacity.

The Horticulture Innovation Club focuses on the needs of SMEs to adapt to change. It is hosted by the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences and is a physical and virtual network for businesses and researchers to exchange research ideas, collaboration opportunities, and links to international horticulture and risk management initiatives in the region.

Initial activities for the Innovation Club include: Creating a physical and virtual meeting place for sharing and co-developing innovative technical solutions; building innovative capacity in SMEs and researchers; creating a database of horticulture innovations as a resource for members; identify opportunities to transfer or commercialise technology solutions.

Strengthening resilience to biosecurity challenges in the pig farming industry

In June 2022, Aus4Innovation program set up a Pig Biosecurity Innovation Platform in Vietnam with the aim to create a cohesive network of actors from across the pig ecosystem working together to improve the health and biosecurity of the pig industry in Viet Nam.

Vietnam’s livestock sector has been facing many challenges, including the impacts of various disease outbreaks, the COVID-19 pandemic, and high feed costs. In 2019, the African Swine Fever epidemic resulted in the death and culling of nearly 6 million pigs, and still continued to disrupt the sector in 2020 and 2021.

The Platform is collectively exploring opportunities and challenges impacting the pork industry, creating pathways for new biosecurity practices to reach smallholder producers, building stronger connectivity between policy, research and producers, improving capacity of national research institutes. As a result, resilience and ability to respond effectively to health and biosecurity shocks and disruptions will be enhanced.