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How the MVP Grant catalysed our business to upcycle problematic crop waste

by Sustinent,

Fungal biotechnology is a rapidly emerging clean technology with the proven capacity to address problems across a wide range of industries. Sustinent is at the forefront of commercialising fungal biotechnology in Australia and in late 2021 we were named as one of Australia’s Top 100 Innovators by The Australian. Established in 2018 through the GrowLab Accelerator at Cicada Innovations, we are now a team of eight. Our growth was catalysed by a NSW Jobs for Growth MVP Grant in 2019.

NSW agriculture burns >500,000 tonnes of crop stubble each year, making it a significant contributor to the State’s carbon emissions. Sustinent’s sustainable and scalable process used fungal biotechnology to convert problematic crop stubble into higher-value products. A Pilot Plant demonstrating our clean technology platform has been constructed in partnership with Sunshine Sugar with initial capacity to process >1,000 tonnes/year of sugarcane trash. Our Pilot Plant will manufacture nutritionally enhanced livestock feed to improve the sustainability and resilience of NSW’s livestock industries; and create export opportunities for NSW-grown, fungi-based, meat-replacement products.

Our business clearly benefited through the MVP Grant program and we believe that our success represents an excellent return on that investment. However, NSW programs that once supported businesses through early growth stages (e.g. NSW Building Partnerships Grants and Regional Growth Loans) ceased upon the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, as a pre-revenue business, we were ineligible for pandemic support programs. Lastly, the impact of recent floods in the Northern Rivers Region, where our Pilot Plant is based, has imposed further challenges for our business.

We welcome the Green Paper’s forward looking approach and believe that stability of policies are fundamental to ensuring that businesses like ours can lead the transition from recovery to resilience and prosperity in an increasingly challenging world.