Staff profiles

Dan Johnson

Position: Managing Director

BSc(Hons), PhD Flinders University. MBA University of Adelaide, GAICD

Email: [please enable JavaScript to view email address]
Phone: 08 8313 6600
Fax: 08 8313 6601
Since: 1 July 2006

Dan Johnson has been the Managing Director of The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) since December 2011. Founded in 1955, AWRI is a not-for-profit research and development organisation that employs 120 scientists, engineers, viticulturists and winemakers and provides professional and scientific services to agricultural industries, particularly grapegrowers and winemakers, and the broader community. The AWRI is one of the world’s most highly regarded research agricultural science institutions and has a significant impact on global agricultural sustainability, particularly in such areas as environmental management, crop yield and quality, processes and packaging efficiency and beverage (primarily wine) quality. It has been a major force in the Australian wine sector’s development to an $US8 billion sector employing more than 60,000 people.

Dan is also Chairman of the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, a not-for-profit company that organises education and training events for the wine industry, a Director of the National Wine Foundation, an entity established to support community-based projects, and a member of a number of wine- and science-related committees, journal boards and leadership groups, including the World of Fine Wine Editorial Board, the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research Advisory Committee and the International Scientific Board of I’Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (ISVV, Bordeaux, France).

Dan has worked in research, development and innovation for more than 15 years, almost exclusively in the not-for-profit sector. Specifically, he has been instrumental in driving various initiatives in the grape and wine research and development community. One significant example is in the formation of the AWRI’s Research, Development and Extension plan 2013-2018. Dan has also been closely involved in the cutting edge scientific disciplines of genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, systems biology and synthetic biology and their application to agricultural industries.

Dan has been directly involved in raising and/or administering $200 million for research institutes, start-up companies and venture capital firms and been directly involved in establishing nine biotechnology start-up companies.

Prior to joining the AWRI, Dan held the position of Business Development Manager at Bio Innovation SA. In this role Dan worked as part of a team that annually administered several million dollars in grant funding and formed South Australia’s first dedicated life science venture capital fund, Terra Rossa Capital.

Dan’s career choices and achievements reflect his two great professional passions – science and business strategy. Having worked as a scientist and in various roles closely aligned to science, he is passionate about R&D but is equally passionate about the practical application of that R&D. Dan has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and the popular/trade press, delivered numerous presentations and lectures to scientific and industry fora on topics such as the wine industry and biotechnology, and was the inventor and owner of a granted patent which formed the basis of his own biotechnology company.

Dan has an exemplary academic track record, and is a ‘lifelong learner’. He is Honorary Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a graduate of the Wine Industry Future Leader’s program, a graduate of the Harvard University Authentic Leadership Development course, a graduate of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy course, a graduate of the IESE Business School Negotiation program and a graduate of the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program. His awards include the BioSA Young Achiever of the Year in South Australian Bioscience, an Institute of Food Technologists Tanner Award and a personal scholarship from the South Australian Industry Leaders Fund.