Australian dairy eyes functional focus funding

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Research and development, Research

The Australian dairy industry continues to target product innovation with a new grant specifically designed to encourage innovative new ways of thermal and non-thermal processing and producing fermented foods and cultures.

Industry-led company, Dairy Innovation Australia, says it will be providing funding of a minimum of AUS$200,000 per year to provide grants to researchers in the countrystudying bringing innovation to​ the production cycle.

Global needs

Global innovation has become a major factor in encouraging greater competitiveness on the tightening milk market and industry players in Australia have not been an exception, according to the company.

The group said that under its latest funding proposals, up to AUS$2.5m per year could be provided for suitable applications, which will be judged on a number of criteria, including quality of the project plan, potential scientific and technological benefits to the dairy industry and the track record of research teams involved.

Historical precedent

Ian Powell, cheese and cultured products manager for dairy innovation Australia, told DairyReporter.com that while Australia had historically embraced new means of dairy production, like rival markets it had to continue to adapt. Although the grant will be focused on providing solutions to specific technical goals, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the dairy industry will therefore be a key aim of any funding, Powell added.

“Standing still is not an option, especially in the face of climate change, persistent regional drought, the rise of new international competitors, shifting consumer desires and changing international trade patterns,”​ he stated. “We aim to generate new fundamental knowledge and to foster knowledge through the development and innovation chain to industry application.”

Decision making

Recommendation of projects suitable for the grants will be dealt with by the respective management committee of Dairy Innovation Australia, with a final decision on funding made by both the company’s chief executive officer and board.

The project will be specifically open for the Australian dairy industry, with the grant only available for research organisations in the country, although Powell claims that the grants could have wider applications for the global industry.

“Dairy Innovation Australia is open to collaboration with appropriate researchers anywhere, subject to negotiation of suitable funding arrangements,”​ he stated.

“Discoveries will be protected where appropriate, but much of the knowledge generated will in due course become available internationally through publication, collaboration or licensing arrangements.”

Applications for the latest round of grants will be open until 5pm on 9 January 2009, the company said.

Australian push

News of the latest grant comes just over a month after Dairy Australia, a separate trade organization in the country, announced that it would be providing grants to improve processing in the country.

Under their scheme, some finished product makers local to Australia will be offered AUS$20,000 (€10,927) to support research either at home or abroad for new processes in sustainable, functional or quality manufacture.

Australia is not the only country keen to encourage national innovation to boost its competitiveness internationally, with industry associations in Ireland also looking to boost their technical and scientific knowledge.

Earlier this year, government agency Enterprise Ireland announced its largest ever investment in research and development, providing €20m in a bid to a support some of the country's manufacturers in their research needs.

A National Functional Foods Research Centre will also be established under the investment, which was made in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Science Foundation Ireland.

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