Pillar 2: People

Theme: Design and innovation

Embed collaboration in RD&E prioritisation, design, development, and adoption.

In 2028, growers can see RD&E addressing their problems and creating practical solutions to be adapted and adopted into their production systems.

In every sector, it is the people who generate innovation. As industries tackle more complex and competing forces in coming years, people will be called upon to problem-solve, innovate and respond faster to challenges. Performance and success will be affected by two factors – the way organisations are structured and the extent to which their processes nurture innovation. Under Clever Cotton, the shift to a program approach aims to fuel innovation and deliver transformative change.

The Design and innovation theme underpins Clever Cotton's new strategic direction. It seeks to embed design methodologies and innovative approaches within processes, and to set collaboration as the foundation for the prioritisation, design, development, and adoption to progress change.

It incorporates a more intentional selection of science-led, grower-led or co-design approaches for progressing and delivering solutions. This shift will help the industry better understand the nature of changes needed across systems in all theme areas.

This theme will support processes that enable growers, researchers and industry stakeholders to develop pathways to change. Each theme will have a multi-stakeholder program reference group to provide diversity and a systems perspective. Program Managers (CRDC's Innovation Brokers), researchers and growers will contribute to the program's objectives and consider the environment to support change. They will pilot and test ideas and have more knowledge about the implications of systems.

The framework will enable solutions to be co-designed, tested and integrated within programs. It will focus investment decisions and help researchers better understand end-user needs and how the design and function of solutions would be used in the real world.

It will also support the setup, data collection, analysis and interpretation of on-farm RD&E and production data. Integrating data from growers and on-farm trials will improve gap analysis and the adaptation and impact of technology solutions. It will also enhance the ability to identify linkages between and across all programs.

The theme will use a systems approach to acknowledge the commercial environment where any changes are needed. It will enable Australian cotton to be more agile, work across silos, enhance partnerships, and support cross-industry action to address complex problems more effectively.


  • By 2024, processes that enable growers, researchers and industry stakeholders to develop pathways to change are supported and encouraged
  • By 2025, innovations are delivered through clear pathways to impact
  • By 2026, ideas are co-designed, tested and integrated within programs
  • By 2026, on-farm RD&E is supported and production data shared