Seven small businesses named finalists in annual awards

29 June 2023

A cheese toastie expert and an artist turning algae into biodegradable plastic are among the finalists of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

Independent small businesses, and the dedicated Melburnians who run them, are the soul of our city.

Each year we say thank you to those making a significant contribution to the city’s culture, prosperity and liveability. Here are the finalists for 2023.

Small Business of the Year finalists

1. Crisp, Melbourne CBD and Docklands (multiple locations)

Grab a salad on your next lunch break and take a moment to appreciate the dedicated team behind the counter. Persisting through the pandemic, the Crisp chain has five stores in the city with two more planned.

A person working at a salad counter.
A Crisp team member at work

2. RIPE Cheese, Melbourne CBD

Indulge in cheese that supports Australia’s dairy industry at Queen Victoria Market. Hakim Halim, a former international student from Singapore, set up RIPE just before COVID and the business continues to thrive.

3. Mary Martin Bookshop, Melbourne CBD, Southbank and Port Melbourne

Find your next page-turner at a bookshop established in 1945. The tight-knit team is on hand to offer expert advice amid warm community spaces, including at Queen Victoria Market’s beloved String Bean Alley.

Small Business Innovation Award finalists

4. Petal Back, Docklands

Find adaptive clothing for people who are mobility impaired and disabled at District Docklands. Petal Black is a longstanding business with a strong network of industry partners and patients, and plans for growth.

5. KNOVUS, Carlton

This business uses the latest zero-waste knit technology to find innovative solutions for a wide range of knit products. KNOVUS creates medical device components, furniture, sports accessories, fashion and more.

A smiling woman with an industrial sewing machine.
Patricia Chircop from Knovus

6. Gaia Projects Australia, Docklands

Sending lettuce to space sounds like sci-fi, but this Docklands startup is planning for interplanetary growth, while addressing climate change and food security. Read more about Gaia Project in How to grow leafy greens on Mars.

7. Other Matter, Southbank

Glimpse the possibilities of a post-petrochemical world with this experimental studio’s pioneering algae-based bioplastics. The team designs sustainable and biodegradable materials, objects and experiences.

A hand putting a curl of plastic-like material into a beaker of water.
Other Matter is creating algae-based bioplastic

We will announce the winners in August, and recognise other Melbourne businesses that have reached impressive milestones of 10+, 20+ and 40+ years.

To learn more, visit Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

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