Hort Innovation sets ambitious $500 million goal for Frontiers R&D

Hort Innovation today announced an ambitious goal to invest an additional $500 million over the next decade in research and development to bolster Australia’s $16.3 billion horticulture industry.

The new Frontiers program will complement the existing levy-funded portfolio and will attract new investors and transformative innovation streams to Australian horticulture with the aim to seize the big opportunities and develop solutions for growers.

Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield said the new co-investment approach is designed to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving horticulture industry that is growing at the fastest rate of all Australian agriculture sectors.

“Through Frontiers, Hort Innovation is not only setting an ambitious target, but we are also being very clear about where investments will deliver the biggest impact – which is where growers need our Frontiers investments the most,” Mr Fifield said.

“We are looking at the big picture to find the big opportunities and have developed this new program with partners, innovators, industry representatives and some of Australia’s most forward-thinking farmers.”

Five fresh investment themes have emerged in-line with the Hort Innovation Strategy 2024-2026 and these will drive the future Frontiers investment agenda. These are:

  • Healthy Living
  • Adaptation and Resilience
  • Market Growth and Security
  • Disruptive Technologies; and
  • Capability Building.

MacField Farms managing director Henrik Christiansen, South Yaamba, Queensland, said a change in investment approach is needed.

“We need to do something different; industry is changing and the ways we approach investment into the longevity and profitability of Australian horticulture needs to evolve as well”.

Bulla Park Mushrooms chief executive officer Georgia Beattie, Diggers Rest, Victoria, said the new approach has an unapologetic focus on commercial outcomes and impact for Australian growers.

“Frontiers now provides an internationally competitive co-investment model featuring a dedicated avenue for grower innovators to propel their ideas forward, partnerships with local and global venture funds and private equity firms, and options for start-ups and early adopters with viable solutions to industry’s challenges.”

Mr Fifield said investment partners will be able to participate across four dynamic investment pathways which will be rolled out over the next twelve months – each designed to propel the industry forward fast and at scale.

The four investment pathways are:

  1. Innovation Partnerships: Delivered through proven procurement approaches, this ongoing stream beckons strategic collaborations, inviting stakeholders from all corners of the sector to join forces to advance industry innovation.
  2. Australian-grown Innovation: Dedicated to growers and the supply chain, this stream nurtures grassroots ingenuity, empowering innovators to take their ideas from concept to reality through a competitive Expression of Interest process.
  3. Incubate and Accelerate: Poised to serve as a launchpad for startup enterprises seeking to scale within the horticulture domain. Through rigorous selection and support mechanisms, budding entrepreneurs, researchers, and students will be equipped to thrive in the competitive landscape.
  4. Hort Innovation Venture Fund: Set to channel resources into high-growth early-stage startups, this stream will propel innovative products and services from inception to market readiness.

Visit the Hort Innovation Frontiers website here

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