About GrowLab

Growlab is a specialised program for deep tech startups looking to improve the Australian and global food and agriculture sectors. Agtech has been identified as part of a global $100B market opportunity, with Australia perfectly positioned to take advantage of this movement. Companies participating in Growlab range from biotechnologies to remote sensing and robotics, to food processing technologies to food products.

Through the course of the three months accelerator, businesses will be taken through a structured customer development process, developing their business model and complemented by structural business knowledge. By the end of Growlab participating startups will be ready to start pitching for scale up investment, kicking off with a public Growlab demo day and optional private investor pitch following the end of the program.

All participants of Growlab must commit at least one full day per week of workshop-style activity on site at Cicada Innovations in Eveleigh, Sydney, in addition to at least twenty hours of additional work each week including customer interviews and developing individual components of a business case. As part of program entry all applicants which reach the interview stage will undergo a full due diligence process prior to program acceptance.


Applications open now for Growlab cohort 2, kicking off April 26 2018.



What you get in Growlab

  • Over $120,000 in program value
  • A structured 12 week program covering customer discovery and structuring your startup to scale and be investment ready
  • Access to industry mentors, professional service providers and everything else you need to grow your business
  • Free access to office space, hardware space and wet labs for you to build your technology
  • Access to farms, food and agribusiness stakeholders
  • Defined funding pathways post-program through program partners and investors
  • Pathway into Cicada Innovations incubator, for up to 5 years of tailored support to keep your business growing and on track


GrowLab program composition

Growlab runs over six months, over twelve weeks of the GrowLab program, participants will be guided through the intricacies of of translating their technology to a marketable business. The GrowLab program comprises two components which build on oneanother: SEARCH and STRUCTURE.

The SEARCH portion of the program emphasises customer discovery: getting out of the building and talking to customers. Each week, outside of the program, several hours will be spent with customers to understand and interpret their challenges. Each week facilitated discussions guide participants through the process of converting these insights into a business model.
The STRUCTURE component provides key structural knowledge about how a business must be set up to develop, launch and scale their technology. Topics covered include intellectual property, valuation, capital raising, pitch craft and negotiation. By the end of the program participants will have a polished pitch to present at the final showcase held in February 2018.

The second twelve weeks will continue to provide office space, access to mentors and support to the teams in growing their business.


A maximum of 10 companies will be accepted into each Growlab intake, entry to Growlab is competitive and assessed by industry experts and Growlab mentors.


Important Dates – Growlab 2018

22 February 2018 – Growlab Demo Day – Cohort 1

10 April 2018 – GrowLab Cohort 2 applications close

11 April 2018 – Shortlisted applicant interviews

24 May 2018 – GrowLab commences

16 August 2018 – Growlab Demo Day – Cohort 2

8 November 2018 – GrowLab Cohort 2 concludes


If you would like to be informed about GrowLab events please enter your details here.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘Agtech’?
For the purposes of our program Agtech is broader than technologies that support ‘pre-farmgate’ agricultural production. We are seeking to work with pre-farmgate and post-farmgate technologies, as well as food technologies, food packaging and food innovations.

Is there any post-program support for GrowLab?
Yes, there are seed funding opportunities for program graduates. There are defined funding pathways through our program partners and partner investors. In addition promising companies will be offered long term incubation with Cicada Innovations (up to five years) for continued hands on support with growing your business.

How can I demonstrate I have access to intellectual property when applying?
Applicants will be asked to provide a letter demonstrating they have access to IP being brought into GrowLab if they are not the sole owner of any underlying IP. This will be requested as part of the due diligence process following program interviews. If you are unsure about this requirement please contact our team on

What if I don’t have a patent to protect my Intellectual Property?
If you have a unique technology or process that you would like to apply to the GrowLab program with, the Cicada programs team can assist with a provisional patent filing before the any public events take place.

Can I still apply if my technology is from another fields and hasn’t yet been applied to food or agriculture?
Yes. Technologies will be assessed by an expert panel based on both potential application to food and agriculture sectors as well assessed on technology readiness. Technologies being adapted from medical or defence industries in particular are seen as highly desirable.

I am a food/agriculture stakeholder interested an being kept up to date, how do I do this?
Simply enter your details here and you will be kept up to date with the latest on the program as well as being invited to public events, showcases and networking nights.


Growlab 2017 Cohort

Growlab’s inaugural cohort has six rising stars of the agtech world, all of these startups are bringing cutting edge technology to the Australian and global agriculture sectors.


FarmTek – a smart collar for determining sheep genetics, improving sheep breeding programs.

FARMpay – a secure online platform for grain trading, FARMpay connects all stakeholders along the supply chain. It is designed to provide rapid data and payment for on-farm grain sales and provide a more efficient, equitable, transparent and secure process for grain growers, grain traders and grain buyers.

FluroSat – a remote sensing technology and analysis tool to optimise farm management by providing early stress detection in crops, and enabling efficient resource inputs and maintenance of yield.

Livestock Labs – an implantable livestock welfare and management monitor.

Nanoscent – a deep technology company combining patented nanosensors and proprietary software, investigating value to the Australian livestock industry.

SwagBot – an autonomous on-farm robotic ground vehicle SwagBot is capable of navigating through rugged terrain and has successfully demonstrated its ability to operate in the environment of a cattle station. Future research will be applied toward autonomous farm activities including monitoring and interacting with plants and animals.



Program partner

MLA Donor Company Limited (MDC) is a fully-owned subsidiary of Meat & Livestock Australia.

MDC accelerates innovation across the value chain so the Australian red meat and livestock industry can remain competitive on the world stage.

It does this by attracting commercial investment from individual enterprises and others that share a mutual interest to co-invest in innovation that will benefit the industry.

MDC is partnering with Cicada Innovations through its innovation and entrepreneurship connect platform, I+E CONNECT. I+E CONNECT ensures the Australian red meat industry is effectively engaged with the global AgTech/FoodTech/food innovation entrepreneurial ecosystem to accelerate the delivery of commercially viable solutions that create unique and competitive positions.

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