Hort Innovation launches new investment programme focused on R&D 

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The  Frontiers programme will complement the existing levy-funded portfolio

Hort Innovation has announced an ambitious goal to invest an additional A$500m over the next decade in research and development to bolster Australia’s A$16.3bn horticulture industry. 

The new Frontiers programme will complement the existing levy-funded portfolio and will attract new investors and innovation streams to Australian horticulture with the aim to seize 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,” 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. 

Quuensland-based MacField Farms managing director Henrik Christiansen 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,” said Christiansen 

Victoria-based Bulla Park Mushrooms chief executive officer Georgia Beattie 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,” added Beattie  

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.