F&FG is partnering with Latrobe Valley Authority to deliver the food and fibre stream within Smart Specialisation, starting around mid-2019. Based on the European Union model of funding to EU countries, Smart Specialisation is being run as a pilot in the Gippsland region (Gippsland Smart Specialisation - GS3).

Whilst it took some time for momentum to gather on the projects during 2019, LVA have confirmed a high level of satisfaction with progress made during 2020 and the partnering agreement has now been extended through to mid-2022. Ben Gebert has been heading up these projects under secondment arrangement during 2020 and as of the end of this year will take up providing full-time services to the role.

In addition to funding the project management service delivery, the LVA funds direct and specific works packages for investigative and analysis work to support the development of the each of the program streams, as outlined below.

The objective within the program is to undertake quadruple helix engagement (community, industry, research and education, and Government) with an Innovation Steering Committee guiding each of the projects. Works packages are undertaken to provide supply and demand analytics, investment logic mapping and any other outstanding areas of analysis work as determined by each of the Steering Committees.

The four projects currently under delivery in this program are:

 Hi Tech Vegetable Waste Processing (valourisation)
 Online Trading Platform & Regional Logistics
 Craft Malting Facility
 Gippsland Trusted Provenance Trademark

Hi Tech Vegetable Waste Processing (valourisation)

This project is nearing the completion of work required so discussions can occur around the most suitable funding models (Government/private sector/industry).

Supply and demand analysis have been completed with external subject matter experts and investment logic mapping is in the final stages of delivery. It is expected by the end of 2020, sufficient evidence-based data will support investment discussions being undertaken and grant opportunities sourced to support progressing this lucrative value-add project for the region. Intent is producing supplements for the lucrative nutraceutical sector, transitioning vegetable waste from the region to a valued commodity, providing a significant increase to value-add opportunity in the Gippsland region.

Online Trading Platform & Regional Logistics

Initially the focus was to deliver an online trading platform/marketplace with supply engagement for
(a) export supply
(b) consumer sales and
(c) wholesale/end of season bulk supply.

During COVID a range of trading platforms/online marketplaces have arisen with support through Victorian Government for Click for Vic/Victorian Country Marketplace now confirmed for the long term.

Instead of providing even more competition to both regional and national platforms, this trading platform project seeks to transition focus to a regional waste-trading platform, engaging farm-to-farm trading of waste commodities.

Regional logistics continues to be developed to;
(a) mitigate empty transport vehicles travelling to – or from – Melbourne and Gippsland
(b) address last-mile delivery challenges
(c) deliver more efficient and effective solutions for Gippsland producer and grower supply to Melbourne restaurants.

It is expected this project will be completed during the first half of 2021.

Craft Malting Facility

With Federation University currently completing works package requirements on supply and demand analytics, deeper engagement is now occurring with industry stakeholders interested in;
(a) investing in this facility
(b) owning this facility under a co-operative model
(c) firming up location specifics - long term leasehold vs land ownership, with both private and Crown land options being considered.

This project has a strong circular economy focus with potential for grains being grown for malting in the facility, once malted the waste turned into fertilizer which is then provided back to the land where the grains are being grown to supply the malting facility.

It is expected this project will reach full and final analysis early in 2021.