A bid by the hemp sector to secure funding from the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) grants program has failed.

The  10-year plan to fast track Australian hemp production has been abandoned after being knocked back in the latest round of funding applications.

A collaboration between the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Deakin University, Southern Cross University, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Western Sydney University, the hemp CRC drew together more than 50 industry partners for the bid.

Professor Gavin Ash

Led by executive director of USQ’s Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment Professor Gavin Ash, it aimed to investigate hemp’s potential to become a profitable, sustainable, globally competitive Australian industry.

At the time of the launch, Ash said if successful, the bid could be worth around A$200 million to the hemp and medicinal cannabis sectors over 10 years. 

However, after missing out to CRC bids for zero net emissions from agriculture (which received a grant of $87m), and solving plastic waste ($40m), USQ will no longer be involved.

Ash said: “It’s very highly competitive and this last round was probably the most competitive of any of the rounds. It doesn’t mean it’s not fundable, it just means that other priorities were higher at that time.”

Urging others to take up the baton, he added: “I think there’s absolutely a great opportunity [for hemp] in Queensland, but it’s a matter of having the people who are prepared to work on it.”

The CRC funds collaborations of up to 10 years between business, researchers and community to develop, support and improve new industries.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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