Amanda Falconer, like any great inventor and entrepreneur, was compelled to act on her big idea in order to solve a problem.
Her problem was how to best support her ageing dog Mondoe with nutritious pet food and supplements.
Amanda with Georgie and Georgie’s owner Sylvia.
Soft-chew pet food
When Amanda’s small business, Bestie Kitchen, was 12 months into operations, she was filling a gap in the market by providing healthy pet food.
At the same time, she was aiming to develop several nutraceutical formulations. Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.
However, she faced technical challenges when attempting to incorporate the nutraceuticals into a soft chew ‘gummy’ format. And that’s where CSIRO Kick-Start came in.
The team behind CSIRO Kick-Start connected Amanda with Dr Thu McCann, Dr Regine Stockmann, Dr Danyang Ying from the CSIRO Agriculture and Food research unit.
Amanda in her new Bestie Kitchen factory in Newcastle.
This team jumped on board for the second stage of this project to help Amanda develop natural, therapeutic gummy chews suitable pet food for dogs like Mondoe.
To further this stage, Amanda was also a recipient of funding from FIAL, the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.
Dr McCann said this funding, alongside the CSIRO Kick-Start voucher was instrumental to the project’s success.
“We worked with Amanda to develop suitable carrier formulations and processing approaches for manufacturing microbially safe and stable gummy chews,” Dr McCann said.
“These chews incorporated nutraceutical ingredients and support the health and wellbeing of pets.
“Working with an Australian SME on overcoming the technical challenges to translate their ideas into high-quality products has been very satisfying for our research team and we have learnt a lot.
“COVID-19 has meant we’ve not been able to meet Amanda in person again to carry out the final testing. But we are optimistic about the work she is undertaking. We’re looking forward to being involved with the commercialisation when we can,” Dr McCann said.
Getting techy with it
The team also worked with Amanda on the technical aspects of product and process development research. They lent her their expertise in manufacturing potential process design and specification, supporting Bestie Kitchen with the purchase of speciality machines and processing equipment and other pricing.
In 2020, Amanda also participated in Innovate to Grow, a CSIRO initiative delivered in partnership with EdTech start-up, Practera.
This specialist program helped Amanda and other participants understand how research and development could help their businesses grow. It also provided links to researchers to ensure they got feedback on their ideas from industry experts.
Recently, the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) awarded Amanda commercialisation funding. This funding, the support of CSIRO and the fond memory of Mondoe moved Amanda to the next phase of business. She is now ready to begin scaled manufacturing from her new factory in Mayfield West, Newcastle.
We’re in a time when many of our small-to-medium businesses are doing it tough. But, Amanda’s efforts and investment in research and development have shown the benefits of collaboration. Not least of all for our fluffy friends who are even more important to us at home today.
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