• Solar Foods, the Finnish foodtech company that has created Solein, a protein that is grown from a micro-organism with CO2 and electricity, has opened its first commercial scale factory, Factory 01. This is its bioreactor.
    Solar Foods, the Finnish foodtech company that has created Solein, a protein that is grown from a micro-organism with CO2 and electricity, has opened its first commercial scale factory, Factory 01. This is its bioreactor.
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We'll start at the end of last.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese presented the nation with a grand plan for growth and economic security with the Future Made in Australia Act. He prefaced it with a glowing appraisal of Queensland and its seeming ability to rule the world – and while I thought parents weren’t meant to have favourites it sounded like he was as much in pre-election mode as he was pre-budget. The election’s currently in the diary for September next year, so let’s all cool our jets on that behaviour.

It was heavy on sentiment and a light on detail, beyond the message that the world is now, more than ever, the embodiment of The Hunger Games, so we need to hunker down, build up supplies, and then rise to global supremacy through making our own things. Surprise!

But at times it really did sound like he was rallying the troops, maybe not to the beaches but definitely to the lab and factory.

Nations are drawing explicit links between economic and national security, he said, citing the US’s US$400 billion on clean energy industries and US$280 billion on manufacturing semiconductors, and the EU, Japan, Korea, and Canada all introducing some form of legislation combining economic policy and national security legislation.

But the PM was quick to point out that economic intervention on the basis of national interest and sovereignty, isn’t old-fashioned protectionism or isolationism but simply a new global competition!

A competition governed by rules, recognising opportunities, and acting with urgency so we can win the “great prize of new prosperity”.

It all made me feel like we should be huddled around the wireless with furrowed brows.

Don’t get me wrong, this language and tone can be incredibly reassuring, telling us how the government is on the ball with our best interests at heart.

But AiGroup Innes Willox’s comment was quite the depth charger, essentially saying this is all a lovely idea with real promise, but the track record of Australian governments having loads of policies that are either poorly implemented, create unintended consequences, and are then slow to adapt when the failings become apparent. And then there is attempting to get cohesion across all the states.

It’s enough for a collective cynical side-eye.

For Willox, delivering on existing responsibilities and commitments would be a good place to start before grand visions and more programs. Clunk.

And here’s the thing, the Albanese government has made quite a few commitments involving a lot of coin. Let’s recap:

The $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, part of the government’s election platform (two years ago), which apart from setting itself up – the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation ($61.4 million over four years), announcing its board,  releasing its Investment Mandate, and appointing a CEO (Ivan Power) – the NRF is yet to have allocated any cash to any business.

Last year’s federal budget allocated $392 million of the NRF to the Industry Growth Program (IGP), replacing the Coalition’s Entrepreneur’s Program, because quite frankly, who can trust a word with so many ‘e’s in it.

There’s a been a discussion paper, an open for business announcement in November, a new grants program within the program – Industry Partner Organisation grants, and the appointment of 19 Industry Growth Advisers who will support to the Industry Growth Program recipients.

Now, to be fair, the IPO program is currently in Stage 2 of applications, and the IGP grants only actually opened this year.

But apart from the NRF, the government has announced the $1 billion Solar Sunshot program, the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program also announced in last year’s budget, the Critical Minerals Facility that received an additional $2 billion in October on its existing $4 billion, and $189.3 million to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority over the next four years.

They too will need much of the back end setting up time sap the NRF has become a poster child for.

I am an eternal optimist, I do believe we can do hard things, but this is a lot.

My weekly PLAY news video is here for more of this week’s local news round-up.

Things that caught my eye over the seas…

Over in the Netherlands, Dutch cultivated meat start-up, Meatable, hosted the first public tasting of cultivated meat in the EU. Source: green queen

In China, the Shanghai Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is trialling a traffic light labelling system on sugar sweetened drinks.

Solar Foods, the Finnish foodtech company that has created Solein, a protein that is grown from a micro-organism with CO2 and electricity, has opened its first commercial scale factory, Factory 01.

Onward.

Packaging News

In the first year of PKN’s Women in Packaging Awards programme, industry has stepped up with meaning. The response has been phenomenal, and the judges had their work cut out for them selecting the finalists from a competitive field of high-calibre nominees.

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.