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LaunchVic plants AgTech seeds: $1.8 million in funding delivered

Three new entrepreneurship programs funded by LaunchVic, in partnership with Agriculture Victoria, will support almost 500 innovative farmers and aspiring Victorian startup founders break into the AgTech sector.

The initiative will deliver $2.2 million designed to boost the number of Victorian AgTech startups and build an entrepreneurial culture. The first $1.8 million of which has been delivered through the AgTech Pre Accelerator Program. 

AgTech Pre Accelerator Programs announced 

Last week LaunchVic announced the three recipients of its Grants for AgTech Pre Accelerator Program. Farmers2Founders, Rocket Seeder and SproutX will each receive $600,000 to help aspiring entrepreneurs with skills to turn their ideas into successful startups.

  • Farmers2Founders, a specialist agrifood tech service provider, will run their Hatch Ideas Pre-Accelerator and a self-paced Online Journey Starter Program that can reach founders in any pocket of regional Victoria, among other initiatives.
  • Impact-focused provider Rocket Seeder will bring together teams of entrepreneurs and researchers to solve some of regional Victoria’s most significant challenges with their new AgTech Seeds Pre-Accelerator Program, bridging the gap between the agricultural industry and research.
  • SproutX will partner with The University of Melbourne to take aspiring founders through The Business of Agriculture, a new program designed to support non-traditional participants in Victoria’s startup ecosystem, like farmers or regional Victorian high school graduates. 

SproutX alumni, Growave founder Liam Hescock said, “Easily the most beneficial takeaway for Growave during the SproutX Accelerator Program, is the AgTech community we were able to tap into. Not only did we meet (and hired) our CEO through SproutX, but we also established a genuine and lasting relationship with the cohort, alumni, and SproutX mentors. 

“To any entrepreneur looking to break into the AgTech scene, we would strongly recommend SproutX’s Pre-Accelerator Program in brokering opportunities and guiding you through your journey.”

LaunchVic supports vital Victorian agriculture 

Agriculture is a crucial sector of Victoria’s economy, employing as many as 146,600 staff. The industry is also critically important to Victoria’s and Australia’s future. However, changing climate conditions will mean the industry needs to adapt continually. 

LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick said the AgTech Pre Accelerator Program initiative was designed to help scale existing on-farm ideas and draw more innovators to agriculture – one of the state’s largest export sectors. 

“Victoria is Australia’s largest agricultural producer by value, but our research shows the AgTech sector remains small and underdeveloped, with less than 40 AgTech startups active across the state,” Dr Cornick said.  

She continued: “LaunchVic wants to see these numbers change, so we’re backing pre-accelerator programs that support people in the agriculture sector with big ideas and early-stage entrepreneurs who want to launch and grow startups. 

“Not only does this increase the number of startups in our state, it can provide a new source of income for farmers and create new technology that improves productivity and sustainability in one of our most important industries.”

Boost for AgTech startups

AgTech is a key driver to support the vital adaptation of the agriculture sector. Access to innovative new and improved tech will provide farmers with the tools, data, and knowledge to make more informed, timely on-farm decisions, improving productivity and sustainability.

AgTech has the power to impact Australia’s agricultural growth significantly. The total value of the global AgTech market is expected to reach $22.5 billion by 2025 (an estimated growth rate of 150% from 2020). 

Despite Victoria having all the elements to be a national leader in AgTech, the sector is still small and immature, with AgTech startups accounting for less than 2% of total startups in Victoria.

LaunchVic’s grant program aims to increase support for aspiring AgTech entrepreneurs by funding experts to deliver Pre-Accelerator programs. 

The Pre-Accelerator programs will play an important role in growing the AgTech sector in Victoria. Ideally, enabling new founders to access the best possible support, advice and networks to build new businesses that will help shape the future economy and grow jobs.

Read more: Here comes the sun: Rabobank’s 2022 agriculture report

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Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck is a Journalist at Dynamic Business. She is a student at the University of Queensland where she studies Journalism and Economics. Heidi has a passion for the stories of small business, as well as the bigger picture of economics.

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