A new commercial kitchen and food incubator, the Food Incubator + Network Centre (FoodINC), was opened in Preston on Friday 29 April offering food start-ups and hospitality entrepreneurs a dedicated space and support network for their businesses to flourish.
FoodINC has been conceived and delivered by Melbourne Innovation Centre, Melbourne Polytechnic and Melbourne’s North Food Group in response to the gap in access to affordable, commercial-quality facilities and education services for small food businesses in Melbourne.
From established restaurant owners branching out into retail products such as baked goods or at-home dinner kits, to entrepreneurs with a ‘side hustle’ business at home in need of commercial facilities to scale up their production.
FoodINC aims to remove the barrier for small businesses to access commercial-grade facilities and the expert support needed to turn passion projects into long-term, sustainable ventures, particularly in the context of the new food business landscape.
Lou Zarro, manager of FoodINC from Melbourne Innovation Centre said: “Melbourne’s hospitality industry has experienced tremendous change following the disruption of COVID-19, from staffing issues to the rise of food delivery services and the changing tastes of the community.
“The development of FoodINC recognises the need to realign professional support and facilities for the food service industry and ensure that food start-ups can access a wealth of professional development and collaborative industry expertise to fuel their business success.”
Melbourne Polytechnic’s industry-expert educators will lead support services, providing training across compliance, occupational health and safety, and food safety.
Kerryn Lester-Smith, director of strategic partnerships at Melbourne Polytechnic said:
“We’re seeing a new wave of entrepreneurs following the impacts of COVID-19, with many hospitality businesses needing to diversify their offering to stay profitable, coupled with many Melburnians considering a complete career change.
“From those looking to explore an idea but unsure where to begin, to people operating small businesses from home and looking to upscale, FoodINC nurtures many facets of small business recovery,” Kerryn says.
An annual membership to FoodINC costs $350 with kitchen access available at $40/hour. The membership offers an onboarding welcome pack, networking and mentoring opportunities, online training resources, subsidised professional training and development from Melbourne Polytechnic, plus access to commercial kitchen appliances.
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