A new initiative, the Food Incubator + Network Centre (FoodINC) aims to serve as a launchpad for food business start-ups and entrepreneurs to boost the recovery of Melbourne’s hospitality industry.
Following the detrimental impacts of COVID-19, the organisations behind the initiative—Melbourne Polytechnic, Melbourne Innovation Centre and Melbourne’s North Food Group, with support from City of Whittlesea—hope FoodINC will help those dreaming of joining Melbourne’s food scene to get their foot in the door.
Located on Melbourne Polytechnic’s Preston and Epping campuses, the incubators are currently being refurbished to be fit-for-purpose. Launch of the Preston incubator is expected in early 2022, with Epping’s to follow shortly after.
FoodINC offers users access to the highest food-safety grade commercial kitchen spaces to take their food ventures to the next level. From recipe experimentation to batch food production, the incubators aim to break down the barriers preventing small business owners from accessing premium facilities.
The initiative provides pivotal opportunities for those looking to pilot or grow their food businesses. By receiving the support and guidance they need, small business owners can begin to take steps towards expansion.
Melbourne Polytechnic will monitor the needs of FoodINC users and offer training opportunities as required across compliance, food safety and occupational health and safety. These specialist short courses and vocational learning will be led by the institute’s industry-expert educators. Melbourne Innovation Centre will also deliver small business and entrepreneurship professional development around strategy, digital solutions and business growth.
Coupled with the training on offer, commercial kitchen access will provide a pathway for new and existing hospitality workers to transition into launching their businesses. All Melburnians, including current and future Melbourne Polytechnic students, will have the opportunity to access FoodINC.
Melbourne Polytechnic Director of Strategic Partnerships Kerryn Lester-Smith explains how the institute is supporting newfound passions coming out of the pandemic:
“We’re seeing a new wave of entrepreneurs as a result of COVID-19, with many Melburnians having that extra time to harbour an idea or consider making a career change.
“After a time of uncertainty, Melburnians are considering their true passions. Now more than ever is the time to invest in brighter career aspirations.
“The FoodINC initiative is tailored to support business owners at multiple stages in their journey to starting or growing a successful business.”