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ESCP is open for applications for projects with up to $50,000 of co-contribution by companies 

This program connects companies to expertise, technical and/or research advice to provide a solution to a technical challenge which businesses are unable to solve themselves in order to take advantage of a market opportunity. The new solution, when supported with training that builds business capability, is designed to increase the competitiveness of the company in their desired markets.

A 1:1 matched company funding is a requirement to participate.

To date, FIAL has partnered with more than 30 companies on research projects of varying scale which have the potential to deliver >$50M in sales once launched.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS:

  1. Read through the Eligibility Guidelines
  2. Read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  3. Download the Expressions of Interest (EOI) form to apply

 

PROJECT EXAMPLES
We are delighted to report on four of the projects that received funding support in late 2015.  These projects include:

1.  Reprocessing of horticulture crop processing waste allowing water reduction during manufacture and increase ingredient availability for continuted support of in-market growth.

2. Cereal protein functionality assessment to support in-market customer needs based on protein application and functionality.

3.  Micro-encapsulation of micronutrients to improve delivery of the compounds to the body and improve nutritional benefits.

4.  Scale up of new micro-encapsulation technology to support rapid market growth of products using the technology.

 

For assistance please read through our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us at info@fial.com.au


 
SME Solution Centre 2014

The SME Solution Centre was the first FIAL pilot program in 2014 to demonstrate how food and beverage companies could accelerate innovation, test concepts or increase productivity in new product and processing opportunities by accessing the specialist technical skills of leading research organisations such as CSIRO, QDAF and DIAL.

Approved projects were able to immediately access the required skills and explore solutions and specific questions in a short focused period of time, to match their commercial time tables.

FIAL provided both 50% funding and the connections made between scientists and business, which made the projects both possible and accessible.

19 companies worked on 24 projects over 3 to 12 month periods and collectively they have the potential of $40million in new revenue streams if the technologies are commercialised by the participating companies.

Click on the next tabs to see videos and case study summaries of some of the SME Solution Centre projects as well as a research study into the program impact and opportunities for further development.

Video Case Studies

24 projects were completed in the SME Solution Centre during 2014. Watch the stories of individual companies and the work of our research partners.

 Clextral and Flavourtech

Through the FIAL funded SME Solution Centre, CSIRO and Clextral have developed a world-first spray drying process called EPT (Extrusion porosification technology), which uses significantly less energy than conventional spray drying, preserves more flavour and nutrition and will enable development of new and improved food products. Australian company, Flavourtech, is in the process of commercialising the technology for tea and coffee globally.  

 

 Community Chef

Community Chef is the largest provider of prepared meals for the aged and disability care sector in Australia. Through the SME Solution Centre and collaboration with CSIRO, Community Chef accessed leading dietitians to review their recipes to increase the nutritional density while reducing portion size suited to smaller appetites of older people. This will enable them to better meet consumer needs and expand their meals to new customers and channels.  

 Goodman Fielder

Goodman Fielder undertook a collaborative project within the SME Solution Centre program working with CSIRO and the support of FIAL funding. Their challenge was to update their dressings to meet changing customer needs while maintaining complete food safety. Immediate access to the technical skills and existing solutions at CSIRO enabled them to achieve their solution without having to invest in their internal capabilities that would have taken much more time to come on stream.  

SME Solution Centre Case Study Summaries

ATP Science: Plant protein extraction study

The Challenge
The Situation
The client required a novel and cost effective source of protein combined with an acceptable extraction method to purify protein that resulted in a consistent ingredient form that can be incorporated into many of their current food, health and nutritional formulations.
The world demand for competitively priced suitable quality plant based protein exceeds supply especially in the health, food and nutrition markets. The approach is to leverage Australia’s high quality status of providing global agri-food products to the world at large from their global operations centre in Queensland.
The Solution
The Result
Find a source of plant material that is geographically and economically accessible. Establish if a suitable capability exists to extract the plant protein from the identified plant in a cost effective technological manner. A commonly grown plant in Queensland was identified and the capacity to extract the protein existed at Innovative Food Science and Technology Brisbane.
A series of extraction trials were undertaken to produce stabilized dried protein which is currently being tested for functional use across the companies current suite of food, health and nutritional products. In addition, value has been created from essentially a low value waste material.

Blue Ribbon Roasting Trading: New shelf stable spreads from grains and pulses

The Challenge
The Situation
To improve paste stability, maintains spread-ability, mouth feel and flavour, maxmise protein, improving flavour profile of edible spread, broaden the allergy free pastes, mimic conditions for supply chain storage, develop a stable product possible and effectively deliver scale up technology trials
The market for allergen free shelf stable spreads formed a major value add opportunity for the grains and pulses industries in Australia. The value added approach dove tailed particularly well in assisting, improving productivity in the agri-food sector in Australia and turn a commodity traded produce into higher value globally tradable product.
The Solution
The Result
Carry out a number of product development and pilot plant activities in conjunction with consumer science expertise at innovative food science and technology to develop a shelf stable consumer acceptable product that can be manufactured in a food processing facility.
A number of refinements were carried out on the formulations combined with small pilot scale production runs that were quality assured throughout the development and production stages. Simultaneous consumer acceptability and market studies indicated an excellent fit for the global retail and hospitality market sectors are With the new innovation developed productivity based Intellectual property has also raised the value of the company.

Buderim Ginger: Production efficiencies for ginger products

The Challenge
The Situation
To improve the productivity capacity for processing, packaging and storage of ginger products and align with contemporary trends.
The ginger processing industry has followed a set processing steps for many generations. The productivity of these approaches were requested to be reviewed with a view to improving productivity. Australia is considered the highest quality producer of ginger especially, candied and crystalline ginger.
The Solution
The Result
Undertake a series of production trials at Innovative Food Solutions and Technology to accelerate the manufacturing flow with a view to improve final output, document these conditions and steps and provide feedback into how the technology used in the trials can be used to improve productivity and effectively incorporated into current production procedure.
The initial outcomes indicate that production outcomes can be doubled through effective processing intervention and associated involvement of more contemporary technologies. The increased output will assist the company in being able to asses if doubling infrastructure size, packaging and storage conditions is viable.

DIAL: Buttermilk Processing Feasability

The Challenge
The Situation
Evaluate options for manufacture of liquid buttermilk products, processed by pasteurisation, extended shelf- life (ESL) or ultra-heat treatment (UHT) and packaged in bags and / or plastic bottles. Before this project, there was very little information available to support product development and predict the impact of processing conditions on quality and shelf-life of the finished product.
Milk by-products often have great opportunity to be converted to value added ingredients and products. Dairy consumption is increasing in many export markets. Conversion of buttermilk (a by-product of butter manufacture, commonly disposed of as animal feed) to a value added food product has the potential to strengthen business performance and in-market differentiation.
The Solution
The Result
A whole-of-chain approach was taken that integrated knowledge of existing, factory and raw material conditions with the results of carefully controlled pilot-scale processing and shelf-life trials. This permitted confident recommendations to be provided regarding the most suitable processes and formats for prospective buttermilk products for various markets.
Combining the results of these trials with engineering reviews and market research, an ESL-processing specification was designed to create the best potential for a new product opportunity for the domestic market in the short-term and export market in a second phase. A full business case to enable production in 2015 is underway.

Humpty Doo Barramundi: Quality testing during the cold chain distribution

The Challenge
The Situation
Humpty Doo Barra Pty Ltd (HDB) needed to quantify the quality parameters of their barramundi as they progressed during cold storage to maximise their opportunities in metropolitan seafood markets. The longer their fish remained at the high quality expected by consumers, the less frequent fish harvesting is required. Less harvesting frequency reduces the frequency of shipping to southern states; a significant cost to the business in view of the remoteness of the Northern Territory.
HDB is one of the largest barramundi producers in the NT with current production capacity of 30t per week. The business is currently growing at 30%p.a. and access to southern markets is intrinsic to the continuing growth of the business. Plans are currently in place to increase production to over 100t per week or approximately 5000t per annum. The transport costs to southern states incurred by frequent harvesting of fish is a significant barrier to expansion of the business.
The Solution
The Result
HDB leveraged the skillset of the seafood team in Innovative Food Technologies (DAF) to benchmark the quality parameters of barramundi during storage on ice. The team also conducted a consumer assessment utilising regular seafood consumers to determine effective duration of acceptable sensory properties of barramundi stored on ice.
HDB now have a sound understanding of the effective shelf life of the product stored on ice as assessed using standard industry quality parameters. HDB also now have a very good understanding of what consumers of their product expect, and the duration of which their product remains acceptable to consumers through the value chain. This knowledge has enabled HDB modify their harvest strategy accordingly.

Queen of Pops: New gourmet barista style frozen confectionary

The Challenge
The Situation
To introduce a line of new frozen confectionary products incorporating high quality barista style coffee destined for adult frozen confectionary market.
The company has a ongoing record of roasting, blending and selling both ingredients and retail coffee internationally. However they possessed no experience or now how in the development of frozen confectionary products.
The Solution
The Result
Queen of pops leveraged the skill set know how, infrastructure and equipment at innovative food technologies in Brisbane to develop formulations and carry out test pilot runs of small scale manufacturing of the frozen confectionary product incorporating coffee.
A series of formulations, processes and small scale production runs were carried out to guide Queen of pops into the production world of frozen confectionary. The company now possess intellectual property that grows the equity value beyond their current roasting and blending platform.

Snack Foods: New flavour coating processing for snack foods

The Challenge
The Situation
The challenge was to design a set of technical and engineering experiments to review novel powder and oil applications onto porous snack product, and determine the costing dynamics needed to deliver a product with high level of flavour release and crisp textured over the product shelf life.
Ensuring key snack category drivers of liking (crispness and enhanced flavour release) are vital to designing improved & differentiated RTE foods. With a new flavour coating system planned for a growing snack food segment, getting the consumer drivers right, first time is critical to both the launch and ongoing success of a new entrant into the snacks category
The Solution
The Result
Apply leading edge engineering design and design led thinking to determine the combination of processing and formulation factors that deliver the flavour system to the snack food surface. All designs were managed by direct consumer feedback on quality and sensory attributes.
Coating and processing options have been designed that provide a snack food that meets the key consumer acceptance hurdles with a launch planned for later in 2015. In addition new ongoing business relationships have been created as a result of the research partnership

Spanish Boutique Beverages: Shelf life extension for new alcoholic beverage

The Challenge
The Situation
SKA is a premium quality shelf stable sangria beverage, low in alcohol and free from preservatives. The initial off shore demand and expression of interest for the product indicated promising production scale up for a product with a 12 month shelf stable capability. This would require productivity improvements to a continuous pasteurisation process, which would need to be developed.
SKA currently possessed a 6 month shelf life, however the production system was based on a batch production method, much like an artisan process. This technique limited the ability to expand production output. Furthermore, a longer shelf stability of 12 months was deemed important to factor in lengthy lead times, particularly if ocean freight was required to ship SKA Sangria globally.
The Solution
The Result
In order to reach its production and shelf life goals, SBB required a process that was continuous and delivered a 12 month shelf life with little if no compromise to the current high sensory characteristics that are present in the market place with SKA Sangria. A series of trials and shelf life studies were carried out to develop a continuous process that would enable economies of scale and expand production capacities.
A series of product variants are being developed incorporating continuous pasteurisation technologies that can deliver the production targets without compromising product quality. This includes real time 12 month quality assurance and sensory testing to establish the viability of the product, whilst retaining a greater than 6 month shelf life, low alcohol and preservative free beverage.

Wild Fingerlime: Shelf life extension for native fruit

The Challenge
The Situation
The challenge involved how to ensure that fingerlimes are available for year long supply to the global market in a form that is acceptable and convenient for use by established and new market users.
The native Australian fingerlimes have short defined season and equally short fresh shelf life. In order to take advantage of the potentially consistent annual demand for Australian wild fingerlimes a new approach needed to be developed for delivering value to customers.
The Solution
The Result
Carry out a series of shelf life extension trials involving a numerous varieties of fingerlimes using a considerable number of innovations and technologies to establish the best approach to be used for storing fingerlimes for long term storage using the expertise at Innovative Food Solutions and Technology Brisbane.
Lengthy shelf life trials involving consumer acceptability and ongoing exhaustive quality assurance indicate that fingerlimes should be available for hopefully the full twelve months of the year to global consumers. The estimated final global market for this style of product is USD 4 million per annum. With the new innovation developed productivity based Intellectual property has also raised the value of the company.

Woods Grains: New food ingredients from grains processing waste

The Challenge
The Situation
To look at how to increase value added returns from low value pulses and grains that are grown and traded in Australia. How to leverage the high quality status of Australian grains and pulses in the world at large to build future streams beyond whole grains and pulses.
Upwards of 10,000mt of grains and pulses are essentially dumped as unable to be sold for profit in the current markets by one trader alone in Australia. This situation was further exacerbated by drought where low yields and increasing competitive business environment which can impact on company viability.
The Solution
The Result
Establish if commercially viable quantities of bioactive and functional components can be detected and the grains and pulses currently regarded as low grade for market and look at how best to effectively extract them in stable form for the global food and health markets. Innovative Food Solutions and Technology provided the applied science and technology to help achieve the outcomes.
Innovative Food Solutions and Technology (IFST) utilised a series of innovative technologies to identify, extract and test the viability of the by products for integrity and efficacy in the natural food and health products market. With a view to establishing supplies to a final global product market aggregately estimated at USD Billions per annum. With the new innovation developed productivity based Intellectual property has also raised the value of the company.
reviews of the 2014 SME Solutions Centre program

A reveiw was undertaken with companies that had participated in the 2014 SME Solution Centre to determine the impact of the program and identifty areas for further enhancement. This was undertaken by the Design Innovation Research Centre at University of Technology Sydney, UTS.

Read the summary of the UTS: DIRC study
Read the full report 2014/15 SME Solutions Program Review prepared by UTS DIRC - March 2015