For Tasmanians keen to bring their dreams of setting up a food and drink, or agri-tourism business, there is now help on the horizon in the form of Seedlab Tasmania.

Seedlab Tasmania is a unique incubator, providing startup Tasmanian food, drink, agri-food and agri-tourism businesses with the expertise, training and support they need to start, scale and grow into export-ready businesses.

Led by Hobart-based food scientist Dr Hazel MacTavish-West, Seedlab Tasmania aims to reach over 200 Tasmanian startup businesses throughout 2020 and 2021. Startups are defined as businesses that have been trading for less than three years.

“Seedlab has a best practice program of training covering all aspects required for developing a successful food, drink and agri-tourism business, delivered by local, national and international experts,” MacTavish-West said. She explained that the project can provide ongoing support, coaching and mentoring from commercially savvy experts, and there will be a program of Masterclasses available to the wider food and drink ecosystem within Tasmania going forwards.

Costs for being part of the program are largely covered by Seedlab Tasmania for eligible startup businesses. MacTavish-West said she understands Seedlab is unique as it deals with some of the technical aspects of developing successful food and beverage products – especially aspects relating to product quality and shelf-life extension for example , which can be essential for accessing export markets.

And even despite recent situations, Seedlab has been forging ahead.

“We’ve never stopped here at Seedlab Tasmania, despite global pandemics and everyone being in lockdown.

Although it’s been more about survival than export, initially,” she said.

“The Seedlab team have been busy connecting everyone up digitally, providing insights from around Tasmania, Australia and the world via the power of technology, and ensuring everyone was aware of new opportunities like new online e-commerce platforms and how to make the best of them,” MacTavish-West explained.

“With the push to take everything digital – photography and understanding technology has never been more critical and so we have had some crash courses in this, and brought the startup businesses along on the journey. It’s fair to say that many of the startup businesses we are dealing with as part of Seedlab have actually seen a substantial upturn in their business as a result of getting online and working it, and pivoting in the face of uncertain and changeable times.”

She predicted an exciting future in store, based on how well Seedlab is being received by participants and how open the community has been to sharing with the project.

Feedback indicates participants are feeling the benefit of the tools and training to help them be more focused, less scatter-gun in their approach, and more systematic. Several people have said that the coaching was alleviating stress.

“This is an amazing experience! The hookups and learning from each other’s experiences are gold dust.” – Lisa Britzman, Campo de Flori and Seedlab Tasmania participant.

MacTavish-West says she’d love to hear from Tasmanians with a wealth of experience to share with their startup businesses.

Applications for Round #2 of Bootcamp are coming in thick and fast – potential participants can apply online via the website www.seedlabtasmania.com.au.

The Seedlab Tasmania Project is supported by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources through Incubator Support initiative funding as part of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. It receives additional sponsorship from other institutes/companies including Woolworths, and the University of Tasmania plus Tasmanian businesses and institutes. Images in this article supplied by Seedlab.