Accelerating the growth of Australia's agtech industry

Agtech accelerator programs support Australian businesses

Machinery
The ThincAg Challenge winners were announced at an event on Wednesday night. ThincAg is an agriculture and innovation competition run by the Adelaide Business School's ThincLab incubator.

The ThincAg Challenge winners were announced at an event on Wednesday night. ThincAg is an agriculture and innovation competition run by the Adelaide Business School's ThincLab incubator.

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Start-ups getting support thanks to a variety of accelerator programs.

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Plenty of people can have an innovative idea but it takes gumption to turn it into a reality.

It then takes funding and business acumen to turn it into a viable business model.

It's a challenge Australia's agtech start-ups know well but one several accelerator programs are working to address.

For two South Australian innovators, their ideas are gaining recognition thanks to winning the ThincAg Challenge on Wednesday night.

ThincAg is an agriculture and innovation competition run by the Adelaide Business School's ThincLab incubator.

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Third year ag science student Liam Place won first prize in the undergraduate category for his innovative financing model for deep ripping practices.

Viticulture and oenology students Lucas Allen and Benjamin Hayward took out second place with a proposal for a platform to connect farmers, agribusinesses, researchers, and government to manage drought risk by providing tailored solutions to specific problems.

Fellow viticulture and oenology student Willem Joubert came third with his pitch for a value added product for smoke tainted grapes.

Wine science PhD candidate Stephanie Angela won first prize in the postgraduate category for her idea around the ultra-filtration of wine waste.

Over the border in Victoria, the state government launched a new initiative to support agtech start-ups last week.

Funding of $2.2 million has been committed to the Victorian AgTech Entrepreneurs Initiative. The program will be run in partnership with start-up agency LaunchVic.

Eligible organisations will be provided with grants of up to $600,000 to run pre-accelerator programs to provide support for early-stage start-up founders and help develop their product, business model and connect them with investors.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said Victoria is well placed to lead Australia as a powerhouse for agtech innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Accelerating the growth of Victoria's agtech start-ups will create jobs and growth, as well as opportunities for our farmers to use cutting-edge tools, data and technology which will drive efficiency, productivity and sustainability," Ms Thomas said.

LaunchVic CEO Kate Cornick said the initiative was an exciting and logical partnership.

"We know we have great start-ups in Victoria, and we also know we are one of the largest food bowls of the country - building on the innovation in the sector makes perfect sense," Ms Cornick said.

Development opportunities exist for start-ups in other states with the SparkLabs Cultiv8 accelerator program based in Orange, NSW, and the Agtech and Logistics Hub at Toowoomba, Qld, delivering a series of open innovation and acceleration programs.

In Western Australia, AgriStart specialise in connecting start-ups, growers, investors, corporates, industry, researchers and government.

From 2018 to 2020, AgriStart has delivered five agtech accelerator programs with 45 organisations and 61 individuals participating.

The organisation will be running the AgriStart agtech accelerator again in 2022 with the program launching in early November 2021 and applications closing in mid-December.

AgriStart also collaborates with evokeAg to run the Startup Network virtual accelerator program. The accelerator is aimed at supporting businesses and the adoption of new technologies on-farm, with the application timeline for the 2022 cohort to be released later this year.

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