A PROGRAM initiated in Tasmania – and now with national reach because of a $4 million funding boost – aims to help more than 700 small businesses, such as food producers and agri-businesses, to scale up into a sustainable operation.
The program, Seedlab Australia, has worked with more than 100 start-ups in Tasmania and now with the $4 million investment from Woolworths aims to work with more than 700 businesses nationally over the next two years.
Seedlab offers a program of training and support for small businesses to help them start, scale and grow to supply more food and drinks to consumers throughout Australia and beyond.
Seedlab founder Dr Hazel MacTavish-West, with more than 30 years of industry experience and a background in food science and agri-food consulting, brings her experience and an extensive network of global industry contacts who contribute specialist knowledge to the program.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Woolworths to launch Seedlab Australia and support emerging businesses with the knowledge they need to build distribution and reach their goals,” Dr MacTavish-West said.
“We’re passionate about helping Australian producers plant the seeds for long-term success and we’re excited to work with business owners across the country.
“It’s wonderful to see Australia’s largest supermarket invest in the industry pipeline to create opportunities for Australian food and drink businesses through our program.”
Woolworths Director of Buying, Paul Harker, said investing in small businesses was crucial to a thriving Australian food and production industry.
“We’re backing Seedlab Australia with $4 million to help give entrepreneurs with bright ideas the leg up they need to make them a reality.
“With mentorship from some of the best in the business, Seedlab can help great Australian products reach their potential – and customers right across the country.”
Since January 2020, Seedlab has worked with more than 100 start-ups in Tasmania, helping regional family businesses, 65 per cent of which were founded by women, and many are agri-businesses.
A diverse range of businesses have been supported, from ice cream producers (The Devil’s Own Ice Creamery in Launceston) to gin (Summerleas Distillery in Kingston), to agri-tourism (Guide Falls Farm, in the North-West).
An example of the connections within reach for producers in the Seedlab were on display at Wrest Point in early September, where start-ups had the opportunity to pitch their products to Tasmania’s largest tourism and hospitality business, the Federal Group.
“Supplying a client like Federal Group could be a game-changer for many of the businesses here today, it’s also a chance to learn from other producers, learn from Federal Group and make their products even better,” said Dr Mactavish-West.
“We’ve had great experiences previously pitching to Woolworths and Hill Street, so we thought we’d bring everyone in together, to hear, taste and talk.”
Seedlab is now taking its program to a national audience, with the $4m Woolworths’ investment.
Seedlab Australia will help producers of food, non-alcoholic beverage, home and personal care products start, scale and grow through training and support from industry experts spanning business strategy, production, range, distribution and branding.
Once ready for retail distribution, producers will have the opportunity to pitch directly to the Woolworths buying team.
Producers and manufacturers looking to develop their products for retail distribution can register their interest with Seedlab Australia online and find more information at seedlabaustralia.com.au.