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Connected and Prosperous Communities through Transformative Technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents an opportunity and a threat to regional Australia. If communities, universities and government work together, we can maximise the benefits and minimise the threats from this powerful new form of technology for regional Australia. This Smarter Regions CRC will give regional Australia the ability to act with urgency and scale to address some of the key challenges and opportunities facing regional Australia.
Food and agriculture
Mining and resources
Health and social services
Transport and logistics
Smarter Regions CRC
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What will we achieve:

The Smarter Regions CRC will empower regional Australia to gain the maximum benefit from the AI revolution. It will transform existing industries and grow a technology sector in, and for, regional Australia. The result will be:

  • More profitable and competitive regional businesses and industries
  • Higher productivity leading to higher wages
  • Regional growth and jobs
  • Better delivery of regional services
  • A better return on regional investment
  • Regional Australia confident it can thrive in an AI-enabled world

The CRC will be a partnership between industry, government, universities and VET training organisations and will be the first major effort to specifically focus on enabling regions to capture the benefits of AI anywhere in the world.

The Smarter Regions CRC will better enable regional Australian businesses to achieve ‘local’ success in the 21st Century economy by investing in research and education across four programs:
We will invest in research and education across four programs: 

Why Regions:

With a deliberate spotlight on regions, the Smarter Regions CRC will position regional Australia as a leader in the uptake and creation of AI-enabled technologies to drive improved productivity, job creation and increased value to global markets. An investment in this CRC will support regional Australia to:

  • Attract and retain a skilled workforce in AI
  • Build an Australian technology sector focused on regional industries
  • Have a higher adoption of AI-enabled technologies
  • Have explicit sovereignty of data and AI control systems
  • Establish Australian standards and ethics for the AI we use in our industries

Despite having some of the world’s leading researchers, Australia is losing the race to both create and implement AI technologies. If Australia does nothing to change course, export-exposed regional industries will face the choice of losing markets or adopting foreign controlled AI.


Who Will Benefit:

Regionally based sectors including food, and agriculture, wine, mining and resources, food and fibre processing, tourism, health and social services and transport and logistics, will all benefit from the research conducted in the Smarter Regions CRC.


Research projects conducted in the CRC will be determined and led by the partner organisations. This will enable industry to describe their own problems to researchers who can design innovative solutions. 


The programs  the CRC will aim to:

  • Improve the competitiveness, productivity, and sustainability of Australian industries, especially in those sectors where Australia has a competitive strength, and they align with Government priorities.
  • Foster high quality research to solve industry-identified problems through industry-led and outcome focussed collaborative research partnerships between industry entities and research organisations.
  • Encourage and facilitate small and medium enterprises (SME) participation in collaborative research.

Why is this CRC needed?

Regional Australians face different opportunities and challenges compared to their metropolitan counterparts. It is often difficult to attract skilled workers. The strong export focus of regional industries means they must achieve higher efficiencies to compete with other, lower wage countries.

This CRC deliberately targets regions as the focus for a national effort to advance AI and other smart technologies due to the inherent challenges such as poor connectivity, harsh environments, and a smaller skill-base. In regional Australia there is also a higher proportion of export-exposed industries. 

If the Smarter Regions CRC is not funded, the risk is that Australia misses out on the AI evolution. International companies will seek opportunities to strip-mine Australian data to build their own AI systems, only to have them sell these systems back to us. This will result in our economic prosperity and strategic industries being driven and controlled by foreign interests, causing Australia to fall further behind in productivity and competitiveness.

This CRC will change the way regional Australia understands, creates, deploys, and uses AI and its data. Given the scale of this evolutionary task, and combined with its solid partnership base and the timeframe to achieve results, this CRC program is the ultimate vehicle to put regional Australia at the forefront of our global competitors.

What Stage is this CRC at?

In August of this year, the Smarter Regions CRC Bid Development Committee will submit the case for establishing a unique and innovative Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to address critical challenges and pursue key opportunities in regional Australia. 
This CRC is critically important to Australia to ensure our regions and their industries benefit from the Artificial Intelligence revolution. 

It will help to keep Australian industry data in Australian hands and make sure our exporting industries are being driven by Australian AI systems.

By developing Australian AI for our regional industries, we ensure that it meets Australian standards and ethics.

This Smarter Regions CRC is about safety, security and creating jobs for industries in regional Australian.

To date, the partners committed to the Smarter Regions CRC bid include:

• Over 20 companies (including SMEs)
• 11 Showcase Regions (comprising over 50 regional organisations)

We are also proud to be working with 8 Universities/Research Partners.

The bid seeks to secure $44M from the CRC program. If supported, and given the breadth of our vision for regional Australia, this funding will ensure that regional Australia will reap the benefits of AI-enabled technologies to drive increased productivity, more high paid jobs and increased value-adding.

Without the leverage and collaborative platform of the CRC funding, Australia’s effort will lack the scale, speed and collaboration required to realise the full benefit of AI and other smart technologies. 

If you are interested to be considered to be part of this CRC, we welcome enquiries at [email protected]


The Smarter Regions CRC brings together a powerful combination of commercial partners with an interest in Agtech, Mining, Forestry, Driverless Vehicles, Retail, IT and Services.


Our industry partners are technology companies and organisations from the following sectors:

  • Primary industries and forestry
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Smart cities and infrastructure
  • Health and ageing
  • Human resources and education
  • Marketing and sales
  • Capital investment

We are proud to be working with the following universities:

  • Charles Sturt University
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO - Data61)
  • La Trobe University
  • Macquarie University
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of the Sunshine Coast
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Wollongong

By facilitating a partnership between industry and research sectors, the Smarter Regions CRC is well positioned to solve regionally-identified issues, meaning there is no better time for businesses, communities and regions to leverage off what promises to be a most dynamic CRC.

Showcase Regions

Showcase Regions are a critically important element of the CRC, where the application of technologies developed by the CRC can be live-tested, demonstrated and the potential for the region to become global leaders in the creation and adoption of smart technologies, addressing regional challenges and delivering benefits for regional communities. 

Through this CRC, we will promote local solutions, educate, partner with, and support regional communities through 11 Showcase Regions to ensure the benefits from the research conducted by this CRC is felt in regional Australia.

This CRC will provide regional Australia with numerous case studies of successful innovation using AI, which will inspire and inform others on how to do the same.


Congratulations goes to BlueIOT!

Blue IoT, one of our technology partners in the Smarter Regions CRC, has just received a highly commended award for world-first innovation in the 2020 Global FM Awards of Excellence. Blue IoT received the award for its cloud-based smart city management platform “Encompass Blue”, which has transformed building and energy management.

This is another step forward for Australian technology innovators in the sustainability and IoT space. We look forward to ensuring that regional Australia benefits from the solutions being developed by world class companies like Blue IoT through the Smarter Regions CRC.

To read more:
Congratulations Blue IoT on your brilliant work!


The Smarter Regions CRC will give regional Australia the ability to act with urgency and scale to address the key challenges and opportunities facing regional Australia.

To receive personal invitations to upcoming workshops please email [email protected]
There are no upcoming Events at this time.

More Information

For more information on this CRC, please send us a message online or contact:

Interim Chief Scientist

Professor Javen Qinfeng Shi

Australian Institute for Machine Learning
University of Adelaide, SA, 5005
[email protected]

0423 703 886

Interim CEO

Dr Paul Dalby

Australian Institute for Machine Learning
University of Adelaide, SA, 5005
[email protected]

0401 122 204

Partnerships Director
Toni Nugent
[email protected]
0418 974 775