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Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) is funding a new industry-led grant program, the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre, to help small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) find solutions to their agri-food waste challenges.

Rolled out in partnership by the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the $200,000 grant program offers to match funds of up to $50,000 in order to deliver solutions tackling food waste.

Research has showed food waste is costing Australia around $20 billion each year, as Australians throw out around 300kg of food per person per year. SMEs also struggle to tackle the issue due to lack of access to finding, skills and expertise.

“This unique program will give SMEs the opportunity to tell the Fight Food Waste CRC their agri-food waste challenges and the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre research community will find the best solutions for them and offer matching funds up to $50k to deliver solutions,” said FFW CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge.

“For example, you could be an SME in rural Australia that grows onions. You notice that 10 per cent of your onions never make it out of the packhouse due to current buyer standards. If you apply to the Fight Food Waste SME Solutions Centre, we will put your agri-food waste challenge to Australia’s best food waste researchers and our international connections to determine the highest value use.”

FIAL managing director Mirjana Prica said the imitative addresses a fundamental gap in the way CRCs engage SMEs.

“We are thrilled that the Fight Food Waste CRC program is building on FIAL’s own legacy initiative, the SME Solution Centre,” she said.

“It is our hope that once SMEs are introduced to the great work being done at the FFW CRC, they will invest further and encourage others to participate.”

The FFW CRC is seeking applications from SMEs demonstrating a “strong understanding of the consumer or market demand for a new product”, and with high commercialisation potential.

To apply, visit www.fightfoodwaste.com.au.

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