Fantastic Fresh Nascent Foods Get a UQ Boost
Newswise – Better beer, exotic mushrooms and probiotic lettuces are just some of the eclectic innovations in food research supported by an exciting grant program from the University of Queensland.
University of Queensland Agribusiness Innovation Alliance (AFIA) The Kickstarter grants program has announced a total of $160,000 in grants to seven food companies, supporting the next generation of Australian food creations.
Director UQ AFIA Professor Melissa Fitzgerald said the Alliance was excited about the creativity and breadth of the nominees’ food research ideas.
“Faster-growing, value-added duck potatoes, healthier probiotic lettuces and rare, gourmet mushrooms on a commercial scale are now being developed through this inventive program,” said Professor Fitzgerald.
“And we’re not just talking about new food creations – we have grant recipients who are focusing on the antimicrobial properties of Australian native plants, looking to engage unemployed young people in agriculture or working on new packaging options to herbal basis.”
The goal of AFIA’s Kickstarter grant program is to help post-COVID recovery by boosting high-end local food and agriculture businesses, building skills, and securing jobs in all communities.
“At its core, the initiative enables UQ researchers and educators to work with small and medium-sized agribusinesses as equal partners,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“These projects will bring together experts from very different backgrounds, each with the common goal of improving and innovating in food and agriculture.
“By facilitating long-term relationships between academia and industry, we are also lowering the barriers companies face when trying to access academic expertise to improve their products and processes.
“There were so many great submissions, and we couldn’t choose them all, but we’re confident these projects will have real business and community impacts.”
One of these projects will be led by an expert in beer science Professor Benjamin Schulzwhose previous research has looked at the complex chemical and molecular composition of beer.
Professor Schulz and his team of UQ researchers will work in close collaboration with Working title Brewing Co. study the molecular ecology and evolution of brewer’s yeast in commercial breweries.
“We bring UQ’s experience in yeast biochemistry, enzymology, genomics and systems biology, with the goal of making exceptionally good beer,” Professor Schultz said.
“And we work with the best in the business – Working Title Brew Co. – who bring a wealth of commercial brewing experience to help us achieve optimal flavor and quality.
“Together, we will study the molecular ecology and evolution of brewer’s yeast in commercial breweries to understand the underlying mechanisms controlling the evolutionary switching of carbon source utilization in yeast to be able to produce consistently better beer.
“This is a truly exciting time – this research will open the door to many more opportunities to harness UQ’s diverse research expertise in similar integrated research, potentially leading to better production of other foods and beverages. “
To learn more about the Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, or to learn more about the next round of Kickstarter grants, sign up at AFIA newsletter.
The University of Queensland acknowledges the $2.5 million contribution made by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment through the Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF) to support activities conducted by the UQ Agri-Food Innovation Alliance.