FoodLab Sydney’s innovative program, modelled on our international partner FoodLab Detroit, is built upon collaborative partnerships between participants, businesses and organisations across Sydney’s food ecosystem to share resources, experiences and ideas in hopes of making new models of food business more sustainable and equitable.
“This collaborative network of specialty food makers, small business owners, chefs, social enterprises and advocacy and leadership mentors is what underpins FoodLab Sydney’s vision of laying a foundation for a stronger, more inclusive local food economy that benefits people of all backgrounds and levels of education,” said Dr Alana Mann, Key Researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute and Chief Investigator on the FoodLab project.
FoodLab Sydney’s business incubator enables participants to learn from business mentors and thought leaders while accessing kitchen spaces and retail opportunities that provide vital support for those who want to develop their own local food enterprises.
At a time of increasing urban food gentrification and restaurant closures, the program is creating new economic development opportunities and empowering individuals and communities – one product, one plate, one business at a time.
In addition to receiving business mentorship, Foodlab participants complete a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations at TAFE NSW Ultimo learning skills in basic hygiene, cleaning and fundamental cookery.
“Meeting the experts from the industry and listening to their experiences and success tips was the highlight of the program. FoodLab Sydney has opened up some really great insights about running a food business,” said Sanjana Rao Godishala, a participant in the inaugural graduate class.
The program is made possible by official partners TAFE NSW and the City of Sydney, whose affiliation makes the FoodLab Sydney program a unique example of a local government-community-university partnership working toward positive social change.
“FoodLab Sydney gives the City an opportunity to actively participate in national and global food justice networks, to share learnings from the rigorous research and evaluation, and to deliver positive social and economic outcomes to our communities,” said Julie Giuffre of the City of Sydney.
“There is also potential to scale up this model within the City – including through urban renewal areas – bringing longer-term social and economic benefits.”
The long-term goals of the program, which is supported by the Australian Research Council, extend beyond the creation of individual food businesses toward greater equality in the food entrepreneurial community.
Graduates of the FoodLab Sydney program become part of the growing FoodLab Community where they can connect, collaborate and consult with like-minded peers and mentors through ongoing support to get their food career off the ground.