Western Australian food innovation hub takes big step forward

On 4 May, CRC stakeholders met at the soon-to-be-completed Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia (the Precinct) in the Shire of Murray to sign lease agreements for core facilities within the precinct. 

The CRC has approved a $13.6 million project with the WA Government and Murdoch University to create a Food Technology Facility as part of the Precinct.

The Food Innovation Precinct is led by the Shire of Murray. with funding support provided by the Australian and State Governments of Western Australia. Located at the Peel Business Park in Nambeelup, the Precinct features a research and development facility, an innovation centre, and a production food technology facility and production brewery.

The Precinct will become an ecosystem of small-to-medium enterprises, research and development institutions, wider industry players including international agri-innovation firms, and government entities providing local and global entrepreneurs, food companies and agri-enterprises with an environment in which they can research, develop and commercialise new value-added food products.

Fiona Simson, Chair of the Future Food Systems CRC, said the Precinct can play a central role in growing the value of Western Australia’s food industry.

“Future Food Systems CRC will work with its Western Australian partners to deliver commercial research services within the precinct,” Simson said. “This initiative is a great example of the innovative thinking and joint government investment needed across Australia to boost regional economies.”

Shire of Murray President Cr David Bolt said, “There’s nothing quite like this project in Australia – it’s a regional hub for food and agri-tech businesses, a mentoring and networking centre, and a food production site with common-use facilities. There are development and research grants available, business mentoring and development opportunities, and it’s all come from a local government shire that’s punching well above its weight and delivering value for its ratepayers.”

Anchor partners

Initial anchor partners in the Precinct are:

The Food Technology Facility (FTF): The FTF will be delivered and operated by Murdoch University as a Future Food Systems CRC project and will support local companies in designing and prototyping future food products. The WA Government is backing the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in contributing $10 million to the project.

Murdoch University’s Food Futures Institute: The FFI works to provide solutions on the sustainable use of limited land and water resources to improve food, forestry and fibre production, economically and ethically. The Institute has led the way on MSA certification of beef and lamb quality, double cropping, reduced tillage practices, the improved use of saline land and water, creating better Wagyu marbled beef, and improving malting barley for beer.

Spinifex: A brewing innovator, Spinifex produces unique beers developed and infused with indigenous botanical ingredients. Spinifex’s unique business model is built on including Aboriginal producers within its supply chain, and supporting Australian Veterans and their ability to produce award-winning beers.

The GrowHub: A food and agri-tech company from Singapore, The GrowHub has an exclusive commercial partnership with the Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia. Currently in eight markets across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, The GrowHub offers access to trusted premium products through the development of new agrifood and blockchain technologies emerging from the innovation centre at FIPWA.

These founding partners will make up the bedrock of the Precinct as it becomes Western Australia’s first food-innovation centre.

It is thought that the Precinct could bring a billion-dollar boost to Western Australia by enabling up to $330 million in value to the state’s food and beverage sector, and another $737 million to the wider economy over the next five years.

The Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct is supported by $21.75 million from the Australian Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

Lead image: Left to right – Bruce Lee (The GrowHub), Lester Chan (The GrowHub), Cr David Bolt (President, Shire of Murray), Professor Andrew Deeks (Murdoch University), Robyn Clarke, MLA (Member for Murray-Wellington), Mick Little (Spinifex Brewery), Adam Barnard (Spinifex Brewery), John Gibbs, (Spinifex Brewery), Professor Peter Davies (Pro Vice Chancellor, Food Futures Institute), Dean Unsworth (CEO, Shire of Murray). Credit: Jamie Wilkinson, Shire of Murray