Funding for food start-ups
Applications have opened for the first Australian ‘deep technology’ agtech program.
‘Super incubator’ Cicada Innovations and MLA Donor Company (MDC) have developed the GrowLab program in an effort to assist talented agricultural technologists obtain funding for their start-up companies.
The participants will already have a technology that can be applied to the agriculture or food sectors, and GrowLab will provide the tools, structure and milestones to determine how best this technology could be turned into a start-up company.
It is the only agtech program in Australia focused on deep technologies that go beyond simple mobile applications, and will comprise eight to 10 individuals or teams with ideas capable of completely transforming agricultural practices and food production.
“The opportunities in agricultural technology are absolutely huge in Australia at the moment, and are expected to contribute over $189 billion between 2013 and 2022,” said Petra Andrén, CEO of Cicada Innovations.
“We have a great deal of talented researchers and scientists already working in these sectors who are finding solutions. Through GrowLab, we can assist in taking their research or discovery to the next level.
“For food production in Australia, for example, we know it can be impacted by seasons or extreme weather and by addressing these we could be capturing a massive financial and productivity opportunity for the industry. Ultimately, we are looking for eligible projects that are pre-farmgate, post-farmgate, food technologies or food innovations.”
The program will commence in September, running until November, and involve one day per week of training over the 12 weeks. This will culminate in a public showcase and investor pitch where promising businesses can receive the necessary investment to progress.
By the end of the program participants will have developed a business model validated by customers and backed by the critical structural knowledge about how to set up a start-up company, provided alongside the business model development components.
Applications for GrowLab are open now until 21 July, with the program offered free of charge to accepted participants. In 2017, projects with direct applications to the red meat and livestock industry will be prioritised for acceptance into the program.
MDC, a fully owned subsidiary of Meat & Livestock Australia, is partnering with Cicada on GrowLab through its innovation and entrepreneurship platform I+E CONNECT. The platform enables the Australian red meat industry to connect and engage with the global entrepreneurial community through strategic partnering and co-investment with a wide range of ecosystem participants.
“Partnering in programs such as GrowLab will help to accelerate the identification and development of new and disruptive ideas that have the potential to drive transformational change in the red meat industry. We want to attract new entrepreneurs and start-ups to create commercially viable solutions that will underpin a long-term sustainable competitive position for our industry,” said Dr Christine Pitt, CEO of MDC.
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