Food production in the horticultural heartland of the Goulburn Valley will be boosted, with Victorian government backing for a new University of Melbourne innovation project.
Higher Education minister Gayle Tierney has launched the $4.7 million NorVicFoods Agri-Food Innovation Cluster project.
It's intended the project will explore innovative and digital solutions to grow and increase the efficiency of the vital food and agricultural sectors.
"This new project will deliver real-world solutions for our valuable food and agricultural businesses - while also giving fantastic opportunities to local researchers and students," Ms Tierney said.
University of Melbourne Dean of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Prof. John Fazakerley said the project would allow for the university's knowledge, expertise and facilities to be applied to provide real-world solutions for Goulburn Valley producers.
The project will be based at the University of Melbourne's Dookie campus, which is a gateway to local agri-food businesses, including SPC, and the companies that support them.
The project team will initially work with at least five local producers and businesses on tailored solutions, then support them to secure private investment and grants to implement solutions.
Projects might include aerial technology to improve fruit harvesting practices, real-time GPS trackers to monitor milk quality and delivery and technology to better regulate the quality of red-meat products like mince and meatballs in international markets.
It will create about 87 jobs, including six full-time research positions, as well as 30 student internships at local companies.
Goulburn Valley businesses are being encouraged to sign up at fvas.unimelb.edu.au/norvicfoods.
The Government contributed $2.7 million to the project in a joint effort by the University of Melbourne and Sensand Technology.
It was one of many pitches from universities to the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund, which was developed in response to the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector.