Australia’s SproutX to set up Victoria’s first AgTech Hub in Mildura
According to an announcement made by the Victorian Government, Australia’s leading national agtech innovation hub SproutX launched its first Australian regional hub in Mildura.
In partnership with Mildura Regional Development (MRD), SproutX will open a co-working space at The Mill – Mildura’s newly established innovation space – and will mobilise a community to support startups in the agricultural space in the region. The project aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs across the Mallee region.
According to Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp, Mildura is a rich agricultural area in which farmers will increasingly rely on technology to manage their businesses sustainably into the future.
Acknowledging the value and important to invest in digital economy, the Victoria Government was the first government in Australia to support the SproutX initiative.
“We have supported SproutX since day one and are thrilled to see the team expand their footprint into regional Victoria,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.
The Connecting Regional Communities program includes a $12 million initiative to conduct an on-farm Internet of Things (IoT) trial in the areas surrounding Maffra, Tatura, Birchip and Serpentine. This trial is an important step in maximising technology to help provide Victorian agriculture with a competitive advantage on a global scale.
SproutX started as an idea for collaboration between Findex and the National Farmers Federation. The idea was then supported by the Australian Government which contributed A$1 million to establish SproutX in 2016.
Today, SproutX grew into a Victorian-based AgTech accelerator program and national co-working space network. It aims to fast-track the development of innovative ideas and technologies as well as source venture capital to support commercialisation.
“SproutX is a great example of how industry and government can help support innovators and new agriculture participants who would typically be beyond the reach of regular support programs,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.
Since its launch in 2016, SproutX has had more than 50 people participate in their programs and has worked with more than 200 agtech start-ups. Participants develop business skills, learn start-up principles, have access to industry mentors, establish AgTech networks and gain opportunities to pitch their innovations to potential investors.
In its 2017 portfolio, SproutX has 11 teams in its 2017 Accelerator Programme. They include:
(1) Applant which created the world’s first human-pumped, aeroponic vertical garden, aTree. aTree uses 95% less water than traditional growing methods and does not require soil or electricity. It grows fresh, pesticide-free produce, indoors and out, in hyper-local environments for families and communities.
(2) Farmapp which is revolutionising food production management by helping growers embrace technology. Farmapp has developed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) software-based service for crops. The software includes a combination of scouting and fumigation apps with sensors and brings automation (IOT) devices to the agriculture sector.
(3) IoTAg which enriches farmers’ lives with exponential technology. Its maiden product — a smart cattle ear tag — enables cattle farmers to track cattle over large distances, monitor for key breeding-related events, as well as alerts them to illnesses and births. All of this, ultimately helps take risk out of farming and make better agri-financing possible.
(4) OutofBox Solutions which aims to build Smart Monitoring solutions using the latest technology to improve Livestock health and well-being. The first product as part of the company’s launch plan will focus on smart-foot inspection.
(5) A smart trap developed by Snaptrap to automate fruit fly surveillance. It eliminates costs including time, travel, waste, by providing concise, real-time decision information remotely. It makes interventions more accurate and cheap, and supports market access efforts.
(6) Water Save which delivers an affordable, automated farm irrigation solution that can be monitored from anywhere in the world. Whilst reducing costs by up to 20&, the platform can build in machine learning to monitor & reduce the level of chemicals applied to crops. This is critical in regions such as Queensland, where outputs severely impact waterways leading to The Great Barrier Reef.
The organisation has also developed an international reputation and is nominated for a Global Innovation Award at the upcoming World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco.