On top of industry

By Country News on April 19, 2017
  • On top of industry

    SproutX accelerator director Andrew Lai

Start-up accelerator SproutX is seeking to make Australia the world capital in agriculture technology, bringing together those in the industry and infusing a Silicon Valley mentality when it undertakes its first accelerator program in May.

The accelerator aims to capitalise on the growing industry, with predictions putting the value of agriculture at $100billion by 2030, a figure that has almost doubled in recent years, with 85 per cent of growth in the industry needing to come from increased yields and cropping intensity, something that’s impossible without technology.

The program, aimed at helping agtech start-ups take great ideas and translate them to market, is a venture between National Farmers’ Federation and financial services company Findex Group, with the aim of improving the efficiency of farming through technology.

Accelerator director Andrew Lai said the organisation recognised a change that needed to happen as global populations rise and arable land shrinks.

‘‘There’s figures from the United Nations that show we need to grow food production by 70 per cent by 2050,’’ Mr Lai said.

‘‘All that has to come through productivity. Arable land is shrinking, so all the gains coming from the future have to be from technology.

‘‘A lot of people have actually commented to us ‘I can’t believe this hasn’t happened before’ given the historical and cultural passion for agriculture in Australia.

‘‘Some of the ideas that have come through from Australian agtech are pretty astounding ... We’re pretty optimistic about the whole area.’’

While global powerhouses have laid claim to other areas of innovation, such as financial technology, Mr Lai said the title of global agtech capital was very much up for grabs and he hoped Australia could be the first to claim that mantle.

‘‘No-one has really claimed agtech.

‘‘(So) we’re trying to push that hard in the national conversation and we’re starting to get some cut through.’’

By Country News on April 19, 2017
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