University receives $2.7 million in funding to focus on regional innovation

The University of Melbourne will lead a collaborative innovation venture, designed to enhance the Hume region’s agri-food businesses and deliver economic value to the area.

Based in Shepparton, NorVicFoods has been established using $2.7 million funding from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund and $1.3 million from the University.

“This new project will deliver some real-world solutions for our valuable food and agricultural businesses – while also giving fantastic opportunities to local researchers and students,” said the Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, Ms Gayle Tierney.

Drawing on knowledge and expertise within the University, the project will bring together research and innovation in science, technology and engineering, with the aim of building skills in the region and increasing economic prosperity.

Minister for Agriculture Ms Mary-Anne Thomas said, “This investment will further support the food and agriculture industry in the Goulburn Valley – which is a vital sector for employment in the region.”

NorVicFoods is expected to create 87 jobs in the Hume region’s agri-food sector, in addition to supporting 30 student internships to deliver applied expertise to local businesses.

“The NorVicFoods venture allows University of Melbourne knowledge, expertise and facilities to be applied to provide real-world solutions for Goulburn Valley-region producers that will benefit the economy, the consumer and everyone in between,” said Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

Starting today, NorVicFoods will invite agri-food businesses to apply for support to solve a specific innovation challenge. This support might include internships or work-based learning programs, providing relevant services in information technology and ag-tech, and arranging collaborations with national and international innovators.

Using learnings from its first five projects, NorVicFoods will suggest ways of securing other research resources and implementing innovative solutions on a commercial scale.

The team will engage deeply with the chosen organisations to understand the specific challenges they face and provide transformative solutions by leveraging the unique capabilities of the University of Melbourne network.

The project is supported by a three-year strategic partnership between the University and Sensand Technologies, which will contribute $600,000 in-kind towards the project.

Custom solutions will be built around one or a combination of research, development, extension, technology transfer and targeted training.

Information on how to apply for support is available on the NorVicFoods website.