2023 ‘Productivity through Infrastructure’ Category Honourable Mention

Shire of Murray, WA

Food Innovation Precinct

Photo of three people, 2 men and a woman in the centre, in white lab coats in a lab


The Initiative

The Shire of Murray is a gateway to Western Australia’s agricultural region. Located 80 kilometres south of Perth, the Shire has superior access to infrastructure and transport linkages, and a strong history of farming and agriculture.

But to take advantage of our region-specific opportunities required a clear mission and strategy.

We developed the idea for a centre of agri-food knowledge and enterprise hub to tackle wider local challenges.

These challenges were manifold: socio-economic disadvantages such as an ageing population corridor, high levels of unemployment, reliance on traditional industry sectors, soil and water issues, and a poor history of food and beverage product development.

The answer was the Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia (FIPWA). FIPWA is both a new physical location (with a research and development facility, a production building and a one-stop common-use food-technology amenity), and an ecosystem of food and agri-innovation specialists.

To deliver such an ambitious project, the Shire had to step out of its traditional remit to lead a coalition of partners that comprised federal, state and local government, academia, international businesses, local community, and industry. Together, we envisioned a future that would empower and connect our regional communities and place us at the leading edge of food science, technology, and food manufacturing at global standards.

We raised $35 million to develop and build FIPWA, an initiative which rings with it a high level of risk for a local government.

That funding underpins a massive social and economic benefit: we will bring a billion-dollar boost to Western Australia by enabling up to $330 million in the food and beverage sector, and another $737 million in the wider economy over the next five years. Up to 51 new food businesses will be created, creating up to 506 direct and 977 indirect jobs.

The Shire’s early activation of partnerships has led to export trials that will see FIPWA deliver at least three percent of the forecast growth in 2022-23 alone.

It is an unusual project for a small Shire to lead, but one which absolutely supports the role of a local government to support its community and encourage multigenerational social economic development.

Photo of the Grow Hub. Photo credit: Shire of Murray, WA

About the Category

The ‘Productivity through Infrastructure’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • utilise technological innovations or regulatory changes;
  • consider sustainability, liveability and productivity in investment strategies and planning; and/or
  • address long-term infrastructure priorities and offer clear economic productivity benefits.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • connecting cities and regions in a way which supports population growth;
  • providing safe and efficient transport links and service delivery; and
  • strengthening and diversifying regional economic bases by better connecting industries to markets and customers.

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