South-west Victoria's farmers will have a chance to share and promote their ideas and inventions with the launch of the region's first dairy innovation challenge.
The South West Victoria Dairy Innovation Challenge is an initiative of the DemoDAIRY Foundation (DDF).
Innovations in milk harvesting, farm operations and management, fodder production and harvesting, sustainability and the environment are being sought.
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These innovations can be in use now or an idea that requires additional research and development.
The challenge will be delivered by the Warrnambool-based entrepreneur development and support business, Regional Rising, and is open to individual farmers and service providers, and agribusiness companies connected to the dairy and grazing industries.
Expressions of interest to participate will open by mid-February and close in March.
DDF secretary Ian Teese said the challenge would build on the original purpose of DemoDAIRY, which was formed as a co-operative in 1991 and established and ran the research and demonstration dairy farm near Terang, Vic,
The co-operative was wound up in 2018 and the farm sold, leading to formation of the DemoDAIRY Foundation, a registered charity aiming to improve dairy industry profitability in south-west Victoria.
"The board wants to identify, initiate and lead new innovations in western Victoria that could have an application to the dairy industry," Mr Teese said.
The challenge is open to individual farmers and service providers and agribusiness companies connected to the industry.
While focusing on dairy related innovations, other innovations in the local grazing industries should be proposed if they will assist dairy farmers improve their profits.
"It could be a good idea that they've had but haven't progressed or something they already have in place to solve a farm problem," Mr Teese said.
DDF board member Maggie Leutton said the challenge would give people an opportunity to promote new ideas, start businesses, improve efficiency, and reduce the environmental impact of the dairy industry.
"We think there are a lot of good ideas out there that are not broadly known and this challenge can help to share those ideas and even turn them into a commercial proposition," Mrs Leutton said.
Innovation Challenge coordinator and Regional Rising CEO Paul Dillon said entrants would be asked to provide details of a problem they have identified and how they have or are trying to solve it.
A panel will review the submissions with prizes awarded to the innovations with the best potential to improve farm profitability.
Categories include innovations in:
- milk harvesting and handling;
- livestock and farm operations and management;
- fodder production and harvesting;
- off-farm service industries and processing/marketing; and
- sustainability and the environment.
Selected finalists will be invited to participate in an intensive short program to identify the best accelerator program to assist them to share their innovations or turn them into a new business or product.
"It's all about sharing good ideas around the industry," Mr Dillon said.
"It doesn't have to be something that's going to become commercial; it may just be something that is going to be useful to other farmers."
Implementation of the challenge will be supported by Food and Fibre Great South Coast and Rocket Seeder.
An official launch later in January will provide more details on how to participate and the final program.
In the meantime, people interested in entering the innovation challenge can contact DDF Ssecretary Ian Teese on email email@example.com or mobile 0427 358 987.