New Grants

The Horticulture Innovation Fund (HIF) is a new program supporting Victoria’s horticulture sector to work together to innovate and adopt new technology and/or processes for economic growth.

The HIF will assist the horticulture sector in Victoria, in partnership with research organisations, to conduct research and development that has practical outcomes resulting in businesses being more productive, globally competitive and sustainable. The program supports researchers to work directly with the horticultural industries in Victoria.

What grants or funding is available?

Grants of up to $50,000 (excluding GST) are available to eligible applicants to conduct horticultural research and development that will benefit Victoria.  Horticultural businesses, organisations and/or associations are required to partner with a research organisation and/or Victorian higher education institution for the conduct of the proposed research and development project.

Grant applicants will have the option of using the funds on the following:

  • Research salary/stipend for a project at an educational institution;
  • Salary expenses for casual or fixed term staff to perform a scholarly, operational or field role in the project; and/or,
  • Operating and travel expenses associated with the research and development project.

It is anticipated that the funding period for each grant will be at least 12 months, unless negotiated and confirmed with written approval of the Department prior to the commencement of the project.


Objectives of the HIF

The objectives of the HIF Vic fund are to:

  • Assist the horticulture sector to increase innovation and adopt new technologies and processes that can lead to commercial outcomes that will benefit Victoria;
  • Address regional knowledge gaps relating to productivity and market access; 
  • Strengthen collaboration between the horticulture sector and researchers;
  • Encourage horticultural businesses, particularly across industries, to collaborate and share information to help increase innovative capacity within the sector; and,
  • Promote interest in horticultural research within Victoria.

Entities and organisations associated with the Victorian horticulture sector can apply.  These include: 

  • Individual horticultural businesses – e.g. producers, coolstore/packhouse businesses, wineries;
  • Research Organisations – a higher education institution or a registered research organisation (non-government).
  • Industry-Research Partnership  – that they have a partnership with either the horticulture industry or an appropriate research organisation in order to carry out the proposed project.

Deadline date:

Applications are OPEN TILL 2019

What are the eligibility criteria?

Research Themes
Applications for grants must address one or more of the following research themes:

  1. Innovative production systems (e.g. new trellis/growing systems, integrated approaches for nutrient, water and pest and disease management);
  2. Managing seasonal variability (e.g. manipulating fruit quality under covers; use of digital technology to predict and reduce risks of climate change impacts);
  3. Improving quality to meet consumer needs/preferences (e.g. new approaches for storage and handling);
  4. Accessing and maintaining export markets (e.g. adapting Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) management practices to Victoria; improved market access protocols for target markets); and/or,
  5. Supporting industry transition (e.g. innovative re-design of existing products; development of value-adding products or processes).

However, additional themes / issues will also be considered.

Eligible Projects
Projects that are eligible for assistance from the HIF include:

  • applied horticultural research and development that is innovative and likely to improve farm performance, and/or 
  • research that will improve market access and business diversification activities as applied to the horticulture sector.

Preference will be given to projects that are mid to late stage research, where adoption, piloting and/or trialling in Victoria is required. For example, demonstrating the use of robotics in a range of orchard systems. 

Projects may be part of a larger research and development program (e.g. part of an Australian Research Council research program or a Horticulture Innovation Australia funded research program) that requires real world testing, trialling and/or validation in Victoria. However, projects funded as part of a larger grant program will only be eligible to apply for the HIF if the original project scope did not include ‘the conduct of research and/or development within Victoria’.

It will be a requirement that the results of the research undertaken by the grant recipient are made available to the Department through the Horticulture Centre of Excellence (HCoE) to enable dissemination to the broader horticultural industries.

Ineligible Projects
Prospective applicants should note that projects should not proceed to the formal application and assessment process where the project: 

  • can be better implemented through another government funding program, and if appropriate, prospective applicants may be referred to other funding programs; 
  • is not innovative and does not improve farm performance and/or market access and business diversification;
  • is not ready for implementation; 
  • is unlikely to deliver practical outcomes within the project timeframes;
  • does not strongly demonstrate the need for support that meets the grant criteria; 
  • does not benefit Victoria; and, 
  • requisite co-contributions are not available. 

Eligible Expenses – HIF grants may be used to cover the following: 

  • Research salaries for a project at an educational institution to perform a scholarly, operational or field role in the project. However,  the HIF cannot be used for either Commonwealth, State or Local Government employees’ salaries;
  • Fees for service by a consultant undertaking specialised research to inform the project in accordance with the research/eligibility criteria under these guidelines;
  • Operating expenses to enable the project to be undertaken (e.g. costs associated with data collection and analyses, conducting workshops and interviews, establishment of field sites and demonstration of technology); and/or,
  • Travel expenses associated with the research and development project within Victoria (capped at 40c per kilometre). 

Ineligible Expenses –HIF grant must not be used for the following:

  • Overseas travel and accommodation costs; 
  • Intellectual property protection (e.g. patent applications);
  • Advertising, promotional or lobbying activities; or,
  • Professional development or education and training activities.

What is the assessment criteria?

For the project to be successful, applicants must demonstrate that their project addresses each of the following key selection criteria:

  • Economic benefits
    All applications should outline the economic benefits associated with conducting the proposed research and development, highlighting how this will support the economic development in Regional Victoria.
    Applications should demonstrate clearly how the proposed project will:

    • stimulate growth in horticultural exports and/or achieving market diversity;
    • support an increase in competitiveness, productivity and/or sustainability;
    • result in industry development or build resilience in the markets; and, 
    • address market-driven issues, that is, it will address an identified need or requirement of target market/s e.g. improving post-harvest storage handling procedures to ensure fruit can reach export markets with consumer preferred product colour, sweetness and firmness.
  • Breadth of impact
    All applications should clearly demonstrate how the proposed research and development project will:

    • contribute, in the longer term, to the strengthening of the broader horticulture sector;
    • deliver adequate social and environmental returns; and,
    • support or strengthen the horticulture sector in Regional Victoria

Preference will be given to applications that can demonstrate that the proposed research and development can be applied to a range of industries and/or have multiple benefits across the value chain.  For example, research and development into the management of Queensland fruit fly will benefit a range of horticultural industries and reduce costs for processors and address market protocol issues for exports.

  • Innovation and capability development
    Applications should clearly demonstrate how the project will generate new knowledge and ideas to address a knowledge gap or a priority issue facing the horticulture sector and describe how the proposed project is innovative.  If using existing technology or systems, the applicant should describe the need for adaptation e.g. to reduce the risk of technology failure and/or adjust to local conditions or crops.
  • Demonstrated project need, feasibility and delivery
    Applications need to demonstrate linkages with universities and other research-based sectors which support innovation.
    Applications should clearly demonstrate: 

    • the project need and a compelling rationale for State government assistance;
    • access to suitable project management expertise;
    • that the project is achievable within budget and the proposed timeframe;
    • that project risks have been identified and strategies are in place to manage them; and,
    • Where relevant, applicants may establish a Project Team where:
      • A Project Team may be comprised of academics, professional and honorary staff and graduate students (at least 50% of the researchers will need to be based in Victorian higher education institutions and/or Victorian research organisations).
      • Team members – must demonstrate capability and track record for delivering research projects 
      • Preference is given to multidisciplinary research teams.
  • Maximising value to the State
    Applications should demonstrate and provide evidence of how the project maximises funding support from a range of sources.

For more information see the Program Guidelines.

How do I apply?

Applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest.

Succesful applicants will be asked to progress to an application.

Want to get the best possible result?

Don’t wait till it’s too late.  Give us a call and find out how we can help make sure you are successful in your funding application.

Working with Treadstone means you get the maximum grant with minimum risk and effort. We provide expert advice and take care of your application, allowing you to continue to focus on your essential business operations.

Treadstone is an experienced, outcome focused team with a proven track record of success since 2008; recently securing three $1m+ grants for our clients.

To ensure you have the best chance of getting grant funding contact us or call 03 9008 5937.

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