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$33,000 boost to NT aquaculture company.



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DAFF05/097WT - 28 April 2005

$33,000 boost to NT aquaculture company

The Northern Territory's LoTech Aquaculture company has received $33,000 from the Australian Government to help it improve the quality and marketing of its sponges, Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

The company, which is based in Casuarina, is among 37 agribusinesses across Australia to receive funding from the Australian Government's New Industries Development Program (NIDP) - a key element of the Howard/Anderson Government's Backing Australia's Ability - Building our Future Through Science and Innovation package.

Mr Truss said LoTech Aquaculture will receive one of the NIDP's In-Market Experience Scholarships.

"The scholarships help boost the business skills of Australian agribusiness innovators so they can compete more effectively on the world stage," he said.

"LoTech's Graeme Dobson will use the scholarship to identify new market opportunities for the sponges it sources from Indigenous communities in Arnhem Land.

"The company will also investigate the specific requirements of those markets regarding quality, quantity, presentation and pricing structures. There is also the potential of a proposed processing and packaging facility in Darwin becoming a tourist destination.

"As well as providing much-needed job opportunities for remote Indigenous communities, the industry is sustainable as the sponges grow back within a few years of being harvested. As the name suggests, LoTech is a low-tech operation that complements traditional cultural practices."

Mr Truss said that, as well as the In-Market Experience Scholarships, the NIDP also makes available Pilot Commercialisation Project (PCP) funding.

"There have been some recent changes to the criteria for these two programs. Innovative agribusinesses can now seek PCP funding of between $35,000 and $120,000 for their projects, and In-Market Experience Scholarships will be worth up to $12,500 (both GST exclusive)," Mr Truss said.

"These grants represent a significant opportunity for businesses looking to commercialise new agribusiness products, services or technologies."

The next round of In-Market Experience Scholarships closes 29 July 2005.

For further information on NIDP funding, including guidelines, visit www.daff.gov.au/agribiz, email nidp@daff.gov.au or call 1300 884 588.

If you would like to contact the LoTech Aquaculture, please call Graeme Dobson on 08) 8983 1838 or email lo.tech@bigpond.com.au

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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