Western Australia’s first food innovation precinct has moved into its next, key development stage following the appointment of a business manager who will progress the project to its successful operation in 2022.
According to Shire of Murray Chief Executive Officer Mr. Dean Unsworth, Dr. Christopher Vas will lead the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct through its activation and launch phase.
“Dr. Vas, an engineer, with an MBA, PhD in Public Policy and an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation, brings over 15 years experience in government, academia and industry engagement roles and has worked across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
“He has a wealth of market specific knowledge particularly in the ASEAN region as well as agri-innovation knowledge having been the Chief Investigator on the Transform Peel Smart Urban Farm Factories project and Executive Director and Commissioner on the Second Murdoch Commission on Food Security, Trade and Partnerships.
“This is an important step in progressing the project to detailed design, execution of leases with foundation tenants, implementation of an enterprise support program, establishment of governance frameworks, policy development, industry and government engagement and precinct activation,” Mr. Unsworth said.
Dr. Vas will operationalise the Precinct’s business plan, which was endorsed by Council at the September Meeting.
“The business plan is a critical component in achieving the Precinct’s overall mission of scaling up Western Australian agri-enterprises through research and development and fostering industry innovation to drive growth and export.
“Following commencement of operations, Dr. Vas will support anchor tenants in the delivery of their research and development, innovation and agri-business commercialisation plans to achieve a recognised market position for the Precinct,” Mr. Unsworth said.
The Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct will be located in the Peel Business Park in Nambeelup and will comprise a research and development facility, innovation centre and production warehouse.
The Precinct which is being delivered by the Shire of Murray, will be an ecosystem of small-to-medium enterprises, research and development institutions, wider industry players including international agri-innovation firms and government entities.
The Precinct will explore the creation of a unique brand, trademark and relevant industry certification, which will draw activity to become the one-stop shop for the agri-food community in Western Australia.
As the only food innovation precinct in the state, the Precinct’s activation will play an important role in catalysing Western Australia’s smart specialisation to agri-innovation.
While physically located in the Peel region, the Precinct will operate on a hub-and-spokes model and use digital infrastructure to connect and engage with other agri-food regions, allowing for scale up and export opportunities.
The Precinct tender process will commence in January 2021, with award anticipated for March and a view to progressing construction to ensure precinct occupation by early-2022. Local content and local jobs will be a key consideration for construction.
The Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct and Peel Business Park developments are supported by funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Growth Fund with enterprise support initiatives supported by the State Government and DevelopmentWA’s Industrial Lands Authority.