Victorian startup agency LaunchVic has announced the latest round of funding, in which it will specifically focus on AgTech start-ups. This particular round is a flagship initiative of Agriculture Entrepreneurs, LaunchVic’s new $2.2 million partnership with Agriculture Victoria in support of start-ups in the agricultural sector which uses digital technology to provide the industry with the tools, data and knowledge to make more informed and timely on-farm decisions and improve productivity and sustainability.
LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick expounded that while Victoria is Australia’s largest agriculture producer, earning the reputation as the nation’s food bowl, the state’s AgTech sector remains small and underdeveloped.
“Research by LaunchVic to inform future work in this space found there were less than 40 AgTech start-ups in Victoria with 80 per cent of these based in Melbourne,” Dr Cornick said. “For comparison, there are more than 2000 active start-ups in Victoria, of which 400 are focused on HealthTech.”
Grants of up to $600,000 will be provided to run pre-accelerator programs that provide chosen AgTech entrepreneurs with the support, mentorship and networks they need to turn an idea into a viable business.
To ensure more market-led solutions flow back to the agriculture sector, start-ups supported through the LaunchVic funded programs will come from a range of backgrounds, from farming and agriculture to corporate and deep tech.
Dr Cornick said that the three-year partnership would boost the number of Victorian AgTech startups and build entrepreneurial culture and capability in this crucial sector.
“Farmers are natural innovators, constantly adapting to droughts, changing seasons and now, global pandemics,” Dr Corniick said. “Pre-accelerator programs translate this ingenuity into a framework for success so that from little things, big things grow.”
James Terry is an asparagus farmer and a fourth-generation food producer, and the CEO of CloudFarming. “Start-ups are delivering landholders with new on-farm solutions, often in the form of data-driven technologies, which afford a new level of insight into profitable and sustainable farming practices,” Terry said.
“CloudFarming completed the CivVic Labs Accelerator program, where we developed a farm robot that improves harvest productivity and worker safety, backed by WorkSafe Victoria. It’s pre-accelerator programs like these, supported through LaunchVic’s new grant round, that build a stronger Agtech startup sector,” Terry averred. “They do so by supporting Victorians from farming backgrounds who can use their expertise to build new solutions, which ultimately benefits our agricultural sector and regional economies to boot.”
The grants round is set to end at 10.00 am on 27 October 2021.