SproutX and Cicada fertilising agritechs


Article by David Swan originally posted in The Australian. 11 July 2017.

Australia’s agritech ecosystem is sprouting quickly, with dedicated agritech accelerator SproutX announcing the first 11 start-ups to go through its program, and local deep-technology incubator Cicada Innovations calling on applicants for its first agtech program, GrowLab.

Based in Melbourne, SproutX, which calls itself Australia’s ­national agtech innovation hub, has accepted 11 start-ups into its program, backed by a $10 million venture capital fund.

SproutX’s general manager, Sam Trethewey, told The Australian the successful applicants were chosen from more than 100 start-ups, and would solve a broad range of problems in the agri­cultural sector, such as using internet-connected sensors, the blockchain, and hydroponic vertical farming for city dwellers.

Each start-up team will receive $40,000 in capital, mentoring from industry experts and office space for six months. They’ll also be able to test and distribute their products nationally through SproutX’s corporate partners, including Findex and Ruralco.

“This first cohort for SproutX shows the belief and commitment to grassroots innovation in Australian agriculture by a handful of dedicated organisations and one state government,” Mr Trethewey said.

Meanwhile, Cicada Innovations, in partnership with Meat & Livestock Australia donor company (MDC) — which has also partnered with SproutX — is calling for applicants for its deep technology agtech program.

Cicada Innovations boss Petra Andren said hers was the only ­agtech program in Australia focused on deep technologies, and will comprise eight to 10 individuals or teams focused on transforming agricultural practices and food production.

“We have a great deal of talented researchers and scientists already working in these sectors,” Ms Andren said. “Through GrowLab we can ­assist in taking their research or discovery to the next level. We are looking for eligible projects that are pre-farmgate, post-farmgate, or food technology innovations.”

The program will start in September, running until November, and involve one day a week of training over the 12 weeks, culminating in a public showcase and investor pitch.

Applications for GrowLab are open until July 21 with the program offered free of charge to ­accepted participants.

Ms Andren said projects with direct applications to the meat and livestock industry would be prioritised for acceptance.

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