GrowLab: Bringing Australian Agtech and Foodtech to the world

agtech commercialisation

About GrowLab

Applications for GrowLab’s 2017 cohort are now closed. To stay in touch please submit and EOI here, there will be several events over the coming months to showcase the businesses through the GrowLab program. Applications will open for the 2018 GrowLab program in March 2018, please get in touch here if you are interested in applying.

The Australian agriculture and food sectors are underpinned by a cultural passion, deep knowledge and backed by a world-class research system. GrowLab has been established by Cicada Innovations in partnership with MLA Donor Company to accelerate commercialisation of technologies for use in the agriculture or food industries.

GrowLab is a 12-week program run from September to November for the first time in 2017. Participants will already have a technology that can be applied to the agriculture or food sectors, GrowLab will provide the tools, structure and milestones to determine how best this technology could be turned into a startup company. By the end of the GrowLab program participants will have developed a business model validated by customers. This will be backed by the critical structural knowledge about how to set up a startup company provided alongside the business model development components. The GrowLab program concludes with a public showcase as well as a closed-door investor pitch.

Eligible projects may be pre-farmgate, post-farmgate, food technologies or food innovations. Participation is open to practitioners, researchers and higher degree graduates with access to a technology and intellectual property that can support the Australian agriculture and food sectors. Both individuals and teams are eligible to apply for the program.

Participants will be required to attend one full day per week of workshop-style training, in addition to approximately twenty hours of additional work each week including customer interviews and developing individual components of a business case. In order to be eligible for entry into the program all projects require ownership or access to intellectual property underlying the technology they will be focusing on during the GrowLab program.


GrowLab program composition

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.



Applications to this program are limited to a maximum of 12 projects, applications will be assessed through a competitive process by a panel with both industry experts and entrepreneurial mentors. In 2017 projects with direct applications to the red meat and livestock industry will be prioritised for acceptance into the program.


Important Dates

1 June – GrowLab applications open

21 July – GrowLab applications close

15 August – Announcement of accepted applicants

11 September – GrowLab commences

30 November – GrowLab concludes

February 2018 – Public Showcase


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. Select projects will be offered the chance to pitch to Cicada Innovations for incubation and mentoring support.

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. This is required to ensure participants have the ability to turn their technology into a business at the end of the program if they choose to go down that pathway. 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.

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.


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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