This week, I thought I would follow on from the theme of last week’s blog on food and agriculture, and introduce you to the area of Agricultural Technology StartUp, or Ag-Tech. Things such as the commercial application of drone technology, robotics and sensors to the agricultural sector are examples of such ag-tech.
Given the world’s growing population and finite resource availability, agriculture needs to become more productive and innovative to feed the growing population. Agriculture has always been a key industry for Australia and with the opportunities presented by our location and region, and China in particular, our ageing agricultural producer population is seeking to bring scientists and IT professionals to the industry. Along the way inspiring a new generation of agricultural personnel.
A new entity has recently been created by a joint venture between the National Farmers Federation and a private equity partner. This new entity creates an Ag-Tech support centre to kick-start start-ups for the sector focussed on developing new agricultural technology.
The entity, SproutX, launched recently and is based in Melbourne. It is the first entity of its type in Australia and has received State Government support. It is now accepting applications for its Pre-Accelerator program and will soon be accepting applications for its Accelerator program.
The Pre-Accelerator program is currently open and offers a free 6-week course to prepare start-ups for the Accelerator program itself, by fleshing out ideas, providing mentoring, online lectures and some cash to go towards bringing ag-tech ideas to life.
The Accelerator program itself is backed by a $10million fund. It gives ag-tech start-ups access to all the best practical and mentoring advice, cash grants, distribution opportunities, media, PR and office space in an ag-tech hub with direct access to experts and connections to the agriculture industry. The goal is commercialisation of ag-tech ideas. Applications open in November for this program.
Ironically, I heard 2016 Casey Cardinia Business of the Year, Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs, co-founder Mr. Jan Vydra speak at a business breakfast last week about the need for evolution of the sector and the challenges of making farming attractive to young entrepreneurs.
The SproutX initiative presents a great opportunity for fledgling agricultural startups to provide a sound foundation for business success, as well as the success of the agricultural sector itself.
Due to recent requests, the blog next week will focus on management reporting and analysis covering the end of the first quarter of this current financial year. We will start with the Profit and Loss Report next week.
Ross – Billson Advisory