Australian food and beverage exporters are set to benefit from an historic agreement announced today between Monash University and the Nutrition and Health Research Institute (NHRI) of China’s biggest food company – state owned COFCO Corporation.
The first agreement signed by NHRI and an Australian organisation, the deal will see the Food Innovation Centre at Monash gain access to COFCO NHRI’s technical resources, in-depth knowledge of Chinese consumers, regulatory expertise and market delivery platforms to fast track supply opportunities for Australian exporters.
The Food Innovation Centre at Monash, which launched in late August, was today formally opened by the Victorian Government Minister for Industry and Employment, The Hon. Wade Noonan MP.
The centre supports Australian organisations through all phases of the food and dairy development process, with a focus on de-risking and accelerating innovations for domestic and export markets.
President and Vice Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the centre’s development and the COFCO NHRI agreement reflected Monash’s commitment to helping Australia achieve its food export ambitions.
“The Monash Food Innovation Centre opens at a crucial time for Australia’s efforts to boost agricultural and food productivity to meet the demands of Asia’s fast growing middle class population,” Gardner said.
“Monash now looks forward to using our world-class capabilities to provide Australian food producers – growers and manufacturers – with a competitive edge.
“Our University will be establishing an elite food industry focused PhD program and investing in large scale infrastructure across campus, including a multi-million-dollar space for food product development, innovation incubation support for SMEs, and industry-university collaboration within Monash’s state-of-the-art $80m Green Chemicals Futures building,” said Gardner.
A key challenge for the Monash centre, Professor Gardner said, would be to support an export culture in Australian SMEs. Crucial to that was the centre’s capacity to provide start-ups and SMEs with a ‘one stop shop’ range of support services to guide them on how to develop export pathways into Asia.
The Monash centre incorporates the technical assets and resources of Mondelez International’s former Ringwood based Food Innovation Centre. Director of Industry Partnerships at Monash, Joseph Lawrence said the utilisation of this commercial expertise on campus “is a bold and exciting approach to the way we collaborate with industry that sees our research experts working side by side with industry sector specialists.”
One of the new technology services that Monash will provide for food industry clients is its $1.8m world leading immersive visualisation space, Cave 2. The facility will enable food companies to visualise their products on the market shelves in both Asia and Australia.
Monash University Director, Food and Agriculture Innovation, Professor Nicolas Georges said: “Given that nine out of ten products fail in the fast moving consumer goods segment, helping companies to visualise what their new product looks like on the shelf and understanding shopper behaviour is key to de-risking innovation.”
Georges said the centre offers unique opportunities for developing future leaders in the food and agricultural industry by giving Monash students the chance to gain industry experience during their degree programs.
“We want to encourage and cultivate more of Victoria’s bright young minds to pursue a career in the food industry,” Professor Georges said.