Who we are
FoodLab Sydney was born out of a desire to radically transform Sydney’s local food system through innovation, inclusion, education and mentorship.
We are a for-purpose food business incubator on a mission to empower food entrepreneurs with the skills, tools, networks and resources needed to become a food enterprise or a leader within one.
We believe that a community of talented and diverse food entrepreneurs, equipped with opportunity within the right community, can create lasting economic, social and environmental change in the beautiful city of Sydney.
FoodLab Sydney launched in 2019, inspired and based upon the original FoodLab model in Detroit, a globally recognised intervention in addressing food security, food justice, and grassroots food entrepreneurship.
With co-founders Professor David Schlosberg and Associate Professor Alana Mann, FoodLab Sydney became an unprecedented pilot partnership between the University of Sydney, The City of Sydney, FoodLab Detroit, and TAFE NSW as an innovative and evidence-based solution to address the lack of support for food business owners in Sydney, the need for sustainable food education and food innovation in Sydney, and the growing food insecurity and food justice challenges.
Proud to be good
We believe FoodLab has a fundamental role in transforming Sydney’s local food system. Being more than just a food business incubator, our vision is to nurture a new generation of food business owners who want to create a fairer, more local and more sustainable food system in Sydney.
We challenge and educate our community on what really makes good food ‘good’: food security, food justice, biodiversity and sustainable farming practices, fair wages and treatment of staff, food waste, local food, traceability, and of course, flavour.
FoodLab Sydney also aims to increase inclusivity and diversity in the food sector through careful selection of program participants who come from a range of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, minorities, and we prioritise those who have been traditionally excluded from the food system. With this in mind, we offer support to those who may not typically find it, and in doing so we hope to make Sydney a more diverse, equitable and sustainable place to live and eat.
Professor David Schlosberg
By day, David is a Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. He is known internationally for his work in environmental politics, environmental movements, and political theory and his work focuses on environmental and climate justice, adaptation and resilience policy, and community-based sustainable systems.
By night, David, co-founded FoodLab Sydney and focuses his time on researching the best possible interventions to create a more equitable and sustainable food system in Sydney. David’s go-to place to eat around Sydney right now has to be Maiz Mexican Street Food in Newtown.
Associate Professor Alana Mann
By day, Alana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, and a key researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute. Before that, Alana had a professional career in the media and non-profit sectors. Her work focuses on how ordinary citizens get a voice in policy debates regarding wicked problems such as food security and climate change.
By night, Alana co-founded FoodLab Sydney and focuses her time on researching how we at FoodLab can best engage local residents in food system transformations. Alana’s favourite place to eat right now is Cairo in Newtown.
Program Manager – Facilitation and Delivery
Jamie focuses his time on delivering the food business program and mentorship program. Jamie has worked within the food and entrepreneurship space for over 8 years, having started his career as a farmhand for entrepreneurial farmers in rural Cambodia. He is dedicated to working with the community for social and environmental justice through food, creativity and empowerment.
Having managed and grown the University of Sydney Business School’s entrepreneurship program to working in entrepreneurship aid, Jamie has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs around the world and has an intimate knowledge of what is needed to start a business. Jamie’s favourite place to eat in Sydney right now is Ryo’s Noodles in Crows Nest.
Program Manager – Recruitment and Partnerships
Catriona focuses her time on bringing in the most passionate food entrepreneurs into the program and liaising with our partners at TAFE NSW and the City of Sydney. Catriona has worked over 30 years in food across the world from retail to consulting, labelling to growing.
Catriona was the founder and director of the first food organics directory in Australia, as well as the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, the Organic Traders and Consumer’s network, and the Organic Federation. Catriona struggles to pick her favourite place to eat as she is in love with the diversity of the wonderous foods available in Sydney.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Kate is a researcher and editor. She has been a core member of the Sydney Environment Institute since it began. Her work in and out of academia platforms people’s food stories and food issues, and promotes transparency in the food system and on food media platforms. Kate is also the editor and co-founder at Counter Magazine, a magazine that peels back the tough, taboo and beautiful topics of food that you won’t have read about in your weekly cooking rag.
At the moment, Kate is in love with the food at home when her mother comes around to cook.
Research Assistant and PhD Candidate
Omar is a sessional academic and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sydney, working on the FoodLab program. Omar has a passion for social and environmental justice and sustainable food systems. His PhD examines the potential that a foodscape approach through a food justice lens can recast the discourse around context-dependent manifestations of food inequities in Australia.
Omar is currently loving the food at Khamsa, a community-centered Palestinian vegan café in Newtown that advocates for human and non-human forms of justice – one mushroom shawarma at a time.
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