Business manager appointed to lead Peel-based food innovation precinct

Western Australia's first food innovation precinct has moved into its next key development stage following the appointment of Dr Christopher Vas as the business manager who will progress the project to its successful operation in 2022.

Dr Vas will lead the ground-breaking precinct, based in the Peel region, through its activation and launch phase.

Shire of Murray chief executive officer Dean Unsworth said Dr Vas brings a wealth of knowledge into the role.

"Dr Vas, an engineer with an MBA, PhD in public policy and an executive certificate in strategy and innovation, brings over 15 years experience in government, academia and industry engagement roles and has worked across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore," he said.

"He has a wealth of market specific knowledge particularly in the ASEAN region as well as agri-innovation knowledge having been the chief investigator on the Transform Peel Smart Urban Farm Factories project.

"This is an important step in progressing the project to detailed design, execution of leases with foundation tenants, implementation of an enterprise support program, establishment of governance frameworks, policy development, industry and government engagement and precinct activation."

Dr Vas will operationalise the precinct's business plan, which was endorsed by the Shire of Murray council at their September meeting.

"The business plan is a critical component in achieving the precinct's overall mission of scaling up Western Australian agri-enterprises through research and development and fostering industry innovation to drive growth and export," Mr Unsworth said.

The Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct will be located in the Peel Business Park in Nambeelup and will comprise a research and development facility, innovation centre and production warehouse.

The precinct will be an ecosystem of small-to-medium enterprises, research and development institutions, wider industry players including international agri-innovation firms and government entities.

It will explore the creation of a unique brand, trademark and relevant industry certification, which will draw activity to become the one-stop shop for the agri-food community in WA.

The precinct tender process will commence in January 2021, with award anticipated for March and a view to progressing construction to ensure precinct occupation by early 2022.