Innovation Seed Fund for Horticulture Development

Posted 16 August 2016 2:56pm by Mark Hincksman

The Innovation Seed Fund for Horticulture Development (ISF-HD) 2018 is open for applications until 2nd October, noting this is the last funding round for the program.


Applications Now Open
Applications Close MONDAY 2 OCTOBER 2017

Notification of outcomes: NOVEMBER 2017


The Innovation Seed Fund is a joint initiative between the University of Melbourne and Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), pursuing innovative and high impact research projects that leverage the strengths of the two partners. The fund focuses on Horticulture industry development and aims to:

  • Create an environment where scholarship based on agreed high impact research and innovation priorities can flourish;
  • Be a seed fund to develop quality collaborative projects that will have significant impact;
  • Bring researchers from the University of Melbourne and DEDJTR together to develop innovative and inspiring projects;
  • Develop the next generation of agricultural research professionals and research communicators.

The scheme will support research teams to develop and implement interdisciplinary research projects that addresses one or more of the themes set out below and/or focuses on a topic relevant to the research objectives of both organisations. Applications must include researchers from both DEDJTR and the University of Melbourne.
Projects should demonstrate strong potential to:

  • Lead directly to applications for competitive research grants, such as ARC Linkage, Industry Transformation Research Hubs/Centres, Discovery Grants, RDCs or other sources;
  • Develop collaborative research initiatives between the two organisations;
  • Produce high quality, high impact research outputs;
  • Demonstrate impact beyond the academic and research communities.

Funding will generally focus on the following themes:

  • Boosting Victorian horticulture industries’ productivity and competiveness by innovation in production systems (e.g. new growing systems, integrated approaches for nutrient, water, pest and disease management such as robotics or unmanned aerial vehicles);
  • Managing seasonal variability (e.g. manipulating fruit quality under covers, use of digital technology to predict and reduce risks of climate change impacts);
  • Improving horticulture management systems that yield high quality produce to meet the requirements/preferences of consumers (e.g. new approaches for storage, handling, logistics and supply management);
  • Optimising horticultural exports by developing market information and addressing issues (e.g. Queensland Fruit Fly management practices; improved market access protocols for target markets, obtaining and optimising market information for export development);
  • Building industry capability, capacity and supporting transition (e.g. innovative re-design of existing outputs or processes such as products and labour, development of value adding products or processes, workforce and education attraction and skills for a smarter workforce).


The fund is comprised of contributions from both the University of Melbourne and DEDJTR, ranging from $5,000-$25,000.

  It is administered by the University.  To apply, please go to:

 Link to University of Melbourne: Innovation Seed Fund for Horticulture Development

Over the last three Rounds, there have been many successful partnerships between our two organisations. Both partners get valuable feedback from industry on ideas and prototypes when they present their work to the horticulture industry.  You can view some of the highlights here:


Current topics being investigated:

  • Low-cost infrared thermography & unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for the rapid detection of plant water stress
  • Willingness for a gradual land-use change from fruit to vegetables in the Goulburn Valley
  • Mapping extension capability of the GV fresh pear sector
  • Economic analysis of tactical farm-level decisions for irrigation management in horticultural production
  • Goulburn Murray fruit industry systemic workforce issues scoping study
  • Impacts of sub-surface drip irrigation (SDI) on soil microbial communities to improve tomato production
  • Maturity index meter and modelling to optimise pre- and post-harvest apple quality
  • Innovative assessment of sugars in plant tissues                                                    
  • Apple sunburn risk and harvest fruit size estimation using a smartphone App

As with all funding proposals, you will need to go through your own branch approval processes and make sure you have sufficient input into the design of projects with your University partners.  Within DEDJTR, please contact Kristy McMahon if you have any queries on this Fund.

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