New fund to support opportunities for AgTech start-ups

rural, farmers

LaunchVic and Agriculture Victoria has announced the launch of a new $1 million fund that will provide support for innovative AgTech start-ups.

The Hugh Victor McKay Fund will invest up to $200,000 into at least five early-stage start-ups in the next 12 months. It is named after Victorian inventor Hugh Victor McKay who patented the original combine harvester in the 1880s which is widely credited as one of the most important agricultural innovations in recent history.

Similar to LaunchVic’s highly successful Alice Anderson Fund, the fund will co-invest with private sector investors, who will match the government’s contribution by a minimum of 2:1.

Tenacious Ventures Founder Matthew Pryor, a member of the Investment Committee for the fund who will meet bi-monthly to review applications, said that the Hugh Victor McKay Fund would provide critical support for founders building the future of on-farm productivity and sustainability.

“Early-stage ventures in AgTech are often working with hardware and deep tech. These can be essential innovations in agrifood transition, since you can’t eat software,” Pryor said. “The early stages of growth can be more capital intensive for these start-ups, so additional leverage on early capital is very catalytic.”

In addition, LaunchVic announced the first round of seven new grant recipients from the AgTech Grants program, which offers equity-free $50,000 grants to aspiring AgTech founders.

LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick urged the state’s AgTech sector to take advantage of the array of support on offer.

“Our work with Agriculture Victoria is particularly exciting in the holistic support we’re offering founders throughout their growth journeys,” Dr Cornick said. “Aspiring founders can undertake pre-accelerator programs to test their start-up ideas, obtain a grant to build their capability and access seed funding when ready to scale.”