Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia, John Harvey* knows better than most how much great work is being done in agtech across Australia and he’s on a mission to bring together everyone interested in this burgeoning sector. To help shape the future of Australia’s food and fibre industries, AgriFutures Australia will host evokeAG, an international technology event to be held next February in Melbourne to bring the world and Australia’s brightest agriculture and technology minds together.
BOTH Australia and New Zealand have the right ingredients to play on the world stage in food and farm for the future. When I look at agrifood tech in Australia I see so much hard work, energy, enthusiasm and activity.
There are incubators, accelerators, hackathons, pitch fests and more that are doing a fantastic job of looking at old problems in new ways. There are people bringing technological expertise to agriculture to provide solutions and systems that will boost productivity and profits.
From working closely with the Australian agriculture sector’s emerging leaders, I also see a real enthusiasm for technology’s potential to transform the way the industry works and break down barriers. It’s not just the consumer opportunities that are exciting these emerging leaders either, they’re also keen to be involved in their own agrifood tech innovations and investments. They want to use their unique skills and experiences to generate ideas and solutions that could lead to both commercial success and boost farm productivity.
From attending agricultural and food technology events around the world it’s also become clear that there’s genuine international interest in what’s happening here in Australia. While our innovation ecosystem is immature compared to those in the UK, the US and Israel where the deal flows have been big, we are nonetheless making a name for ourselves. The practicalities however for investors from overseas who want to interact with Australian agrifood tech are tricky. Our distance from Europe and the US and the geographic distribution across states and cities of the various centres of innovation are a challenge.
These factors in combination; a burgeoning of Australian agrifood tech ideas and innovation, enthusiasm from emerging leaders, and the need for investors to have a single place to see the best of what we have to offer, led AgriFutures Australia to the idea that became evokeAG.
In February 2019 we will be hosting evokeAG in Melbourne, a unique, large scale event that for the first time will gather together and connect everybody in the food and agriculture landscape interested in how technology can and will shape the future. It will position Australia’s, New Zealand’s and the Asia Pacific’s agrifood tech industries on the global stage and make it easy for the rest of the world to see our best of the best.
evokeAG is also a unique opportunity for the agrifood tech sector to have the conversations required to mature our innovation ecosystem and take the industry to new heights. We can consider what it is that we can do in Australia that no one else can, how best to grow the sector and expedite technology outcomes. It will be a place where through collaboration new ideas can spread across the country and we can create a culture of support around the people developing the technology and solutions that will allow us to produce more food and fibre.
As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, “evokeAG will bring together passionate voices to discuss how we harness new technology and creative ways of thinking to boost output and profitability, increase exports and ensure our rural industries continue to thrive.”
AgriFutures Australia’s vision is to grow the long-term prosperity of Australia’s rural industries through research and innovation. Our role in determining the future of Australian agriculture is to bring people together at events like evokeAG to drive innovation, collaboration, funding and opportunities.
If you’re interested in agriculture or technology, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a farmer, an investor, a producer, a startup, working in agribusiness, in finance, in IT or just have a great idea; make sure you mark your diary for 19-20 February 2019 and come along to evokeAG in Melbourne.
* John Harvey is managing director of AgriFutures Australia. AgriFutures Australia is the trading name for Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC).