Seven food and agtech start-ups receive funding boost

Monday, 20 May, 2019

Seven food and agtech start-ups receive funding boost

Solar-powered Wi-Fi, laser-based indoor farm lighting systems and an online lending platform are some of the technologies being developed by the seven start-ups chosen for food and agtech accelerator SparkLabs Cultiv8’s 2019 program.

Graduates of the inaugural 2018 program have raised a total of $17 million throughout the year, and SparkLabs Cultiv8 said they are developing strong international sales and partnerships with leading companies.

One of the 2018 graduates was James Tyler, which has built a multichannel platform selling Australian produce through some of China’s largest ‘new retail’ customers, including AliBaba’s Hema store. It is now the largest exporter of fresh Australian dairy to China and raised $1.4m from Australian private and institutional investors to fund its expansion.

The 2019 cohort participants will receive an investment of up to $100,000 seed funding and will work closely with local and international mentors to accelerate their progress. They will have access to resources from SparkLabs and the Global AgTech Ecosystem (GATE) of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

This year’s SparkLabs Cultiv8 cohort include:

  • Agrinet — An Australian company that has developed affordable solar-powered on-farm Wi-Fi overcoming mobile blackspots and helping to simplify and streamline farm management.
  • InnerPlant — A biosensor sentinel plant platform, developed by a US-based start-up, that senses plant changes at a molecular level, alerting farmers to allow instant action.
  • Oaesis — Saudi Arabia-based Oaesis is developing laser-based lighting systems for indoor farming that can improve efficiency and reduce energy and watering costs.
  • MPT — An Australia-based business using sensors located in specially designed farm equipment to measure moisture in soil, collecting data that can be used to optimise planting and yields.
  • SIPP — The Australian company is changing the way we think about coffee. It has developed a unique range of functional beverages packaged in sustainable home compostable packaging with $1 from every pouch sold donated to organisations dedicated to making our planet more sustainable.
  • The Training Paddock — An Australian-developed online skills management system provides farmers with insights about workers’ skills, and steers and validates workers’ professional development.
  • Traive — The online lending platform, initially being rolled out in Brazil, uses artificial intelligence and big data to support new risk-reduced lending opportunities in agriculture.

“We already know that by mid-century the global population will be nearly 10 billion and demand for food will soar 75% with half of that demand coming from Asia,” said Guy Hudson, Executive Director of SparkLabs Cultiv8. “By working with the world’s leading food and agtech companies now, SparkLabs Cultiv8 is able to help tackle that challenge by accelerating these start-ups’ progress. Our model is for seasoned entrepreneurs to work with new founders to grow their businesses, maximise their impact and provide access to international networks of investors, customers and partners.”

The companies are preparing for the demo day in Sydney on 10 September.

Image credit: © Rostagno

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