UQ grants for fledgling agrifood businesses


Friday, 13 May, 2022

UQ grants for fledgling agrifood businesses

The University of Queensland (UQ) has announced that $160,000 is going to seven agrifood businesses as part of its Agri-Food Innovation Alliance (AFIA) Kickstarter grants program.

The program’s aim is to contribute to post-COVID recovery by boosting local premium food and agriculture enterprises, growing skills and securing jobs throughout communities. It was launched early March of this year, with over 100 businesses initially expressing their interest in the program.

Some of the projects that have been included in the grants are faster-growing custard apples, probiotic lettuces, and rare mushrooms produced at an industrial scale.

“At its core, the initiative makes it possible for UQ researchers and educators to work together with small-to-medium agrifood businesses as equal partners,” said UQ AFIA director Professor Melissa Fitzgerald.

“These projects will bring together experts from very different backgrounds, each with the common goal of improving and innovating in the food and agriculture space.

“By facilitating long-term relationships between universities and industry, we’re also lowering the barriers that businesses face when trying to access university expertise to improve their products and processes.

“There were so many excellent submissions, and we couldn’t choose them all, but we are confident that these projects will provide real commercial and community impacts.”

One of the projects that received funding will use the money to study the molecular ecology and evolution of brewing yeast in commercial breweries. Led by UQ researcher Professor Benjamin Schulz in cooperation with Working Title Brewery Co., the grant will be used to make higher quality beer by understanding the mechanisms controlling evolutionary switching of carbon source utilisation in yeast.

“It’s a really exciting time — this research will open the door to many more opportunities to harness UQ’s diverse research expertise in similar integrated research, potentially leading to improved production of other foods and beverages,” Schulz said.

More information about the UQ Agri-Food Innovation Alliance can be found online.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/BillionPhotos.com

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