24 Aug 2022
A group of fledgling Victorian technology entrepreneurs have taken a step closer to delivering critical
technology for the agriculture sector, with the launch of Rocket Seeder’s AgTech Seeds program.
A group of fledgling Victorian technology entrepreneurs have taken a step closer to delivering critical technology for the agriculture sector, with the launch of Rocket Seeder’s AgTech Seeds program.
Eleven teams of aspiring agtech founders have joined AgTech Seeds, a three-month program that brings together teams of budding entrepreneurs and researchers to solve some of global agriculture’s biggest challenges.
Rocket Seeder Managing Director Emma Coath said it was extremely exciting to see the first cohort begin their AgTech Seeds journey.
“These teams will develop agtech solutions that respond to the needs of Victorian farmers to boost their sustainability, productivity and profitability,” Ms Coath said.
“These are individuals and teams that are at the early stages of development. Some have ideas they want to test and refine, while others are more advanced.
“We are really looking forward to seeing their growth over the next few months.”
The AgTech Seeds pre-accelerator program is supported by LaunchVic and Agriculture Victoria and is being delivered in partnership with Cruxes Innovation, which works with Australian researchers to help them develop skills to build deep, sustained partnerships with industry and government to solve real-world problems.
Teams taking part in the inaugural AgTech Seeds program are developing digital farm management platforms, urban cropping systems, smart gardens and passive solar protective cropping houses.
One team is investigating niche field pea and lentil varieties to meet the demand for alternative proteins. One team is converting waste products into fertiliser, while another is employing drones to manage weed and pest infestations.
The teams are using intelligent growth algorithms, IoT sensors and AI mapping, connecting growers directly to customers and consumers across the value chain.
Ms Coath said the teams will spend the next few months fast-tracking their ideas, working with researchers from universities across the state and Agriculture Victoria. They will gain critical skills in business planning and development, finance, marketing and communications.
The group will have access to Rocket Seeder’s experienced network of mentors, advisors and alumni who will present to the group over the next few months.
“At the end of the program these teams will also have the opportunity to apply for a grant that will assist them to take their business a step further,” Ms Coath said.
The program was launched recently by Victoria’s Lead Scientist Amanda Caples, who has a wealth of experience in technology commercialisation, and has led the development of industry, science and innovation policy in Victoria since joining the Victorian Public Service in 2002.
“I can’t think of anything much more important to do than to enable a group of entrepreneurs to set out on their journey for success,” Dr Caples said at the AgTech Seeds Launch at Rocket Seeder’s new home at Melbourne Connect.
Dr Caples said the key to success when it comes to innovation is the four Ps.
“Innovation is all about purpose, passion, plan and persistence,” she said. “Constantly test yourself - Am I still enjoying this? What is it that I really want to achieve? Do I have a plan in place? Plans change and that’s fine. It’s about persisting for long enough and being prepared to adjust, which is what innovation is about.”
The other key message to the cohort was to invest in their network.
“You don’t know everything about everything you need to know,” Dr Caples said. “Recognise this, and then build a network of friends that can help deliver, either by supporting your skills or complementing your skills and experience.”
Among the first AgTech Seeds cohort are brothers James and Paul Diamond. These third-generation cattle and sheep producers from Mansfield have spent two years developing a digital platform to help farmers access technology to improve both workplace safety and livestock management.“
We joined the program to help us hone our vision, our mission and purpose, and to minimise the distraction and crystalise what we are doing,” James said.
“We really want to accelerate the progress we have made over the past two years. AgTech Seeds will help us establish a stable pathway into the industry and connect with a broader network that we just don’t have.”
Applications are now open for AgTech Seeds Round Two which starts in February 2023. There are 12 positions available for the program which is free to successful applicants. Applications close on 28 November 2022.
For more information or to apply visit www.rocketseeder.com/agtechseeds