Building the food innovation generation
15 June 2018
Twenty-four young innovators are ready to shake up the food sector after graduating from the MLA Donor Company-supported Insights2Innovation Young Food Innovators program this week.
Young Food Innovators, supported by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, was a program for young agri-food professionals and producers looking to develop new opportunities in domestic or export markets, implement innovative business models or accelerate the adoption of new disruptive technologies.
While 13 participants came from the red meat sector, the 'whole-of-chain' program also incorporated the Australian and New Zealand seafood, pork, dairy and horticulture sectors.
Through residential workshops, participants learnt about advanced design-led innovation and value chain approaches to support them in becoming catalysts for innovation.
The participants came together for the final instalment of the program and a graduation dinner at Old Parliament House in Canberra this week. Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud attended the dinner, where he heard presentations from three participants including Michael Shannon, a fifth generation producer who runs Lowanna Properties, a 1,500ha sheep and cattle enterprise at Cathcart in southern NSW.
Michael came to the program having headed up the Bega Beef Cooperative, a group of likeminded producers wanting to create linkages directly between producers and consumers. The project has evolved to become N2T Meats (nose to tail). N2T Meats now has a feasibility study underway and the next stage is a market evaluation with a prototype.
"Young Food Innovators introduced me to the resources available to support the development of the business. Once I knew this it really helped my pitch and helped me understand the value chain issues I was talking about," Michael said.
While in Canberra the Young Food Innovators made site visits to Yass Valley Beef and Shaws Vineyard to learn about real-life case studies of producers looking at emerging Asian markets, the opportunities and challenges they have experienced and the resulting business models.
A get-together with the Canberra Innovation Network (CIN) provided examples of how CIN members used insights to uncover opportunities.
MLA Managing Director Richard Norton said Young Food Innovators provided the red meat industry with a highly skilled group of specialists identifying high value opportunities in export and domestic markets.
"Young Food Innovators has been a great example of industry cross-sector collaboration and it's the ability to collaborate quickly and effectively to respond to a changing marketplace which will see the Australian food sector well placed to cope with future food demands," he said.
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