Technology and agriculture going hand in hand

A GROUP of fledgling Victorian tech entrepreneurs have taken a step closer to delivering ag-sector technology, with the launch of Rocket Seeder’s AgTech Seeds program.

Eleven teams of budding entrepreneurs have joined the three-month AgTech Seeds program that aims to help solve some of global agriculture’s biggest challenges.

Rocket Seeder managing director Emma Coath said it was extremely exciting to see the first cohort begin their AgTech Seeds journey.

“These teams will develop agtech solutions that respond to the needs of Victorian farmers to boost their sustainability, productivity and profitability,” Ms Coath said.

“These are individuals and teams that are at the early stages of development. Some have ideas they want to test and refine, while others are more advanced.

“We are really looking forward to seeing their growth over the next few months.”

Teams taking part in the inaugural AgTech Seeds program are developing digital farm management platforms, urban cropping systems, smart gardens and passive solar protective cropping houses.

One team is investigating niche field pea and lentil varieties to meet the demand for alternative proteins.

Another team is converting waste products into fertiliser, while others are employing drones to manage weed and pest infestations.

The teams are using intelligent growth algorithms, IoT sensors and AI mapping, connecting growers directly to customers and consumers across the value chain.

Ms Coath said the teams will spend the next few months fast-tracking their ideas, working with university researchers and Agriculture Victoria.

They will gain critical skills in business planning and development, finance, marketing and communications.

The group will have access to Rocket Seeder’s experienced network of mentors, advisors and alumni who will present to the group over the next few months.

“At the end of the program these teams will also have the opportunity to apply for a grant that will assist them to take their business a step further,” Ms Coath said.

The program was launched recently by Victoria’s lead scientist Amanda Caples.

Among the first AgTech Seeds cohort were third-generation cattle and sheep producers Mansfield brothers James and Paul Diamond.

They have spent two years developing a digital platform to help farmers access technology to improve workplace safety and livestock management.

“We joined the program to help us hone our vision, our mission and purpose, and to minimise the distraction and crystalise what we are doing,” James said.

“We really want to accelerate the progress we have made over the past two years.

“AgTech Seeds will help us establish a stable pathway into the industry and connect with a broader network that we just don’t have.”

The AgTech Seeds pre-accelerator program is supported by LaunchVic and Agriculture Victoria.

It is being delivered in partnership with Cruxes Innovation, which works with Australian researchers to build sustained partnerships with industry and governments.

Applications are now open for AgTech Seeds Round Two which starts in February 2023, with 12 positions available for the free program.

Applications close on November 28.

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