AgTech support sprouts across Australia

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The ramp up of a national AgTech accelerator comes as more grants in Victoria aim to help Australian farmers adapt to drought and adopt new technologies like automation, soil sensing and pollination management.

On Friday, expressions of interest were opened for the Drought Venture Studio being run by Beanstalk Agtech to find researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, and corporate innovators to participate.

The studio will link innovators and provide commercialisation support, while a competitive component will down select participants for a year of dedicated support to launch at a global scale.

Just days later, the Victorian government launched a second year of AgTech Grants program with a $1 million top up.

regional farm

The state initiative being run in partnership with LaunchVic offers $50,000 grants to eligible startups to engage mentors and build their businesses.

19 of the grants were awarded in 2023, with remote live-stock monitoring firm Drone-Hand among the recipients.

“We’ve seen some inspiring AgTech startups come through the program addressing everything from weather, crop productivity, and supply chain,” Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence said.

“AgTech startups are driving innovation and adaptation in our agriculture sector, and we are providing crucial support in their early critical stages.”

The continuation of the state program comes as the national Drought Venture Studio gears up to launch in August.

It is being led by Beanstalk AgTech, a private innovation advisory, but is funded by the by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

“Australian agriculture faces some of the most extreme drought conditions in the world, and the industry here is world leading. Our farmers and researchers have always found a way to survive and to thrive in an extreme climate,” Beanstalk AgTech dorector Cal Archibald said.

“Partnership with the Future Drought Fund allows us to offer unprecedented support for researchers and innovators, and to launch new drought resilience solutions that will help Australian farmers and share our knowledge with the world.”

The studio expects to offer a 90-day support program to almost 100 agtech startups over the next two years, with eight selected participants to receive a year of dedicated support. The studio does not take an equity stake in the startups.

The program is funded by the federal government’s Future Drought Fund, which aims to help farmers and regional communities improve their drought resilience. In the lead up to the Budget earlier this month, the Albanese government committed $519.1 million over eight years to deliver the second phase of the Future Drought Fund.

ANU research shows global warming is profoundly changing the water cycle, contributing to more rapid and severe droughts and putting the squeeze on Australian farmers.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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