The Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Programme will offer funding schemes to both university researchers and corporates to encourage R&D projects. The programme will deliver more than A$23m to drive new standards in the food industry.
Major companies including Kraft Foods Australia, The Smith’s Snackfood Company, Simplot Australia, SunRice, Goodman Fielder, Pepsico ANZ and Campbell-Arnott's entered successful applications to be part of the programme, while the federal government selected four universities to train future scientists to lead food industry transformation and innovation.
“Innovation is of critical importance to Australia’s A$110 billion food and grocery manufacturing industry. This investment will be a significant boost to Australia’s potential to become a food manufacturing hub for the Asian Century,” said Gary Dawson, the AFGC’s CEO.
“It delivers funding to research hubs and training centres that will enhance industry competitiveness and bolster manufacturers’ capacity to take advantage of export opportunities by investing in research into food products and developing a skilled workforce to undertake this vital research.”
More than A$9m has been earmarked for the academic side of the programme, which will support new training opportunities for food scientists. The University of Queensland’s A$2.7m grant was the largest sum to be awarded to training centres.
Professor Melissa Fitzgerald from UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences will be director of the new food scientist training centre, at UQ's St Lucia campus in Brisbane.
“The new centre will deliver high-quality, business-ready graduates heading for an industry career, rather than the traditional PhD-to-academia career path,” Fitzgerald said. “Courses on commercialisation, intellectual property and business leadership will be built into their programme.”
The University of Melbourne's new Dairy Industry Hub was awarded A$5 million in the announcement to undertake “transformational research to underpin the development of the dairy industry in Australia”.