Construction on the Shire’s Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct in the Peel Business Park, is set to commence in early-2021.
The Precinct is being developed in the Peel region to support Western Australia in building a robust and vibrant food and beverage manufacturing sector.
Specialised equipment and research and production capabilities will ensure the Precinct offers a substantial variety of technologies and processing methods, aimed at scientifically proving nutrition, traceability and transportability, and supporting the development of high-value premium foods with extended shelf life.
The Precinct will create an enabling environment for Western Australian, Australian and global entrepreneurs, food companies and agri-enterprises to cost effectively network, research, develop, protype and market-test new value-added food products derived from Western Australian primary produce.
Stage one of the Precinct will see to the development of three bespoke facilities:
A business plan to guide operation of the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct was endorsed by Shire of Murray Councillors in September 2020.
The plan is a critical component that aligns focus of the Precinct with achieving the overall mission of scaling up Western Australian agri-enterprises, deploying research and development and fostering industry innovation to drive growth and export.
The Shire will manage the activation, organisation, engagement and sustainability of the Precinct through the recent appointment of a business manager, who will operationalise the business plan.
The manager will work closely with key stakeholders, initially focusing on securing tenants and establishing and implementing programs, policies and strategies. Following commencement of operations, the manager will be responsible for supporting tenant success and achieving a recognised market position for the Precinct within agtech, foodtech and Western Australian investment management industries.
Successful delivery and operation of the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct is being achieved by:
- Understanding how policy shifts, international transport capacities and costs, and changing consumer preferences will impact the food and beverage market
- Building workforce skills and creating regional employment in all aspects of food production, including advanced manufacturing capabilities
- Building local food chains that connect our small and larger producers/farmers with strong local and export markets
Economic modelling indicates that the Precinct could, in the first five years of operation:
- Create between 17 and 51 new food and beverage enterprises
- Create between 169 and 506 direct jobs and 323 and 977 indirect jobs
- Grow WA’s food and beverage sector output by between $110M and $330M
- Inject between $245M and $737M in other economic sectors
Anticipated project timeline:
- Head lease arrangements for the innovation, production and research facilities are currently being finalised
- Expressions of interest for the office and co-working space – ongoing
- Final design completion – November, 2020
- Tenders for construction with significant priority to local construction enterprises and suppliers – January, 2021
- Tender award – March, 2021
Following a 12-month construction period, the buildings are anticipated for occupation by early-2022. Local content and local jobs will be a key consideration for construction.
Originally conceptualised as a catalyst for Transform Peel, the Precinct has been made possible through:
- State Government funding of $45.2 million for the completion of Peel Business Park head-works infrastructure
- A $21.75 million Australian Government Regional Growth Fund grant for the Precinct’s construction
- Additional State Government funding of $2.5 million as a contribution to an Innovation Fund offering grants to industry in order to access research, specialised equipment and Precinct facilities
An interim program for individuals, entrepreneurs and small and major enterprise wishing to be part of the Precinct is underway, comprising a one-day Business Owner Boot Camp, six-week Build Your Business course and one-on-one mentorship opportunities.
Successful participants will pioneer the opportunities of the Precinct once open. The Shire of Murray is working with Spacecubed and Meshpoints to deliver the program, which is supported by the State Government.
An Enterprise Support Program has been successfully negotiated with the State Government. The Program will provide small business support, export advice and a grant voucher scheme to enable access to research and product development facilities, equipment and expertise for SMEs and start-ups.
The grant voucher scheme will commence early-2021 whilst the Precinct is in construction, with a total of $3.8 million in grants available over the coming years. The grants will be available on a 50:50 basis, up to a maximum of $200,000.
The advent of COVID-19 prompted collaboration amongst Murray’s local producers, who worked quickly to establish the Murray-Waroona Food Network, and resultantly, a local food chain.
The resilience of local producers during this time and their willingness to adapt how they do business, demonstrated Murray’s capability to build a strong food sector.
In order to strengthen this local food chain, plans are in motion to link the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct with initiatives already underway in Murray, including Edenvale Tea Rooms by Fairbridge WA, proposed development of the Exchange Hotel, the Dwellingup National Trails Centre and Fairbridge Farm, as well as our local producers.
Pinjarra is ideally positioned to benefit from the strategic activity that will soon be realised through the Precinct, to celebrate the region’s strong agricultural heritage, provide a window into our local food bowl and strengthen Pinjarra and the Shire of Murray’s identity as an innovative and unique food and cultural destination.