FoodLab Sydney is a not-for-profit culinary business incubator that helps entrepreneurs with high barriers to entry formalise and grow food businesses.
We focus on supporting refugees, migrants, Aboriginal Australians and low-income entrepreneurs by offering affordable kitchen space, industry-specific resources, mentoring and sales opportunities.
Our vision is to create a vibrant, local and inclusive food system driven by entrepreneurs from high-barrier backgrounds doing what they love to do and achieving financial security.
Since 2019, we have supported the launch and growth of 29 food businesses including caterers, market stalls and artisan products. Fast forward to 2023, and we are excited to be moving into our own commercial shared kitchen in Strathfield, Sydney, offering affordable rental rates to participants in our program.
Born during a global pandemic at The University of Sydney, FoodLab has an unlikely origin story.
In 2018, two academics from the University of Sydney, Professor Alana Mann and Professor David Schlosberg, found through a research study that there was a lack of support for food entrepreneurs in Sydney and an abundance of informal, ‘under-the-counter’ food businesses in operation.
Looking to models overseas, they found FoodLab Detroit, a globally recognised US program that addressed local, racial and socioeconomic equity in food entrepreneurship.
Bringing the model to Australia, FoodLab Sydney began in 2019 as a partnership program between the Sydney Environment Institute (at The University of Sydney) and City of Sydney.
What started out as a series of workshops and classes soon evolved into a mentoring program, a community, and finally, a culinary business incubator.
Now, FoodLab serves high-barrier entrepreneurs who approach their business as a pathway to economic freedom, seeking a way to take control of their economic lives.