Grants to foster food innovation

Wednesday, 29 March, 2006

The National Food Industry Strategy's (NFIS) Food Innovation Grants (FIG) Program plays an important part in encouraging innovation by Australian food industry businesses, NFIS managing director, Dr Susan Nelle said recently.

Twenty three Australian companies will share in $11.4 million funding thanks to the FIG program.

The recipients, which were announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran MP in Canberra, are the latest of 10 rounds of FIG funding, valued at $45 million.

An additional, and final, round of grants worth approximately $1 million was also announced at the ceremony.

"The FIG program helps large and small food businesses take research and development to the next step of commercialisation through sharing the risk associated with innovation," said Dr Susan Nelle.

Individual grants of up to $1 million are awarded on a competitive, merit-based assessment, with funding provided on a matching dollar-for-dollar basis for up to half the eligible project costs.

The projects must involve research and development that includes systematic experimentation, investigation and analysis in any field of science and technology and they must have strong prospects for commercialisation within the food industry.

"I'm delighted to announce that since the FIG program was launched in 2003, it has helped stimulate approximately $103 million worth of investment in research and development in Australia that may not otherwise have happened.

"In practical terms this means Australian food companies are being given a helping hand to find solutions to R&D problems that previously were probably in the "too hard' basket.

"Ultimately, NFIS Ltd believes investment in innovation is a major contributing factor to the increased international competitiveness of Australia 's food industry," Dr Nelle said.

Since the beginning of the program 73 grants have been awarded across all states with a total investment of $45 million from the FIG program.

NFIS is an industry-led, Commonwealth-funded company that drives the $114 million national strategy, a five-year blueprint for growth in the Australian food industry.

It is overseen by a joint government-industry council comprising six Commonwealth Ministers and leading fig ures from the food industry.

Innovations to receive the grant include:

  • Development of innovative integrated processing and packaging systems for the manufacture of foods resulting in benefits to the consumer and export opportunities.
  • Novel Electric Fumigation Technology, for post-harvest and pre-planting treatment, including methyl bromide substitution.
  • Development of technology to manufacture a range of enhanced cheese flavours.
  • Use of processing plant in the off-season to produce dairy based powders for the functional food ingredient market.
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