A NATIONAL entrepreneurial development program for primary producers is calling for innovative producers to throw their hat in the ring. The Farmers2Founders (F2F) Early Adopter Program has been designed for forward-thinking producers who want tech solutions for on-farm issues, and want to work with tech companies to ensure these solutions are the best they can be.
Farmers2Founders is a world-first innovation program tailored to producers that equips them to act as frontline innovators and supports them to develop entrepreneurship & technology capabilities, so they can solve critical industry challenges.
Searching for, finding and filtering technology vendors is one of the serious challenges faced by farmers today when looking for agtech solutions. The Early Adopter Program supports farmers to access hand-picked companies that are working on the very issues that farmers identify.
The program includes three phases over six months – Exploration, Design, and Engagement. Through the virtual program and in-person workshops, producers and producer groups will gain expertise in technology management strategies, join a community of like-minded farming innovators, and get hands-on support from F2F to engage with a curated group of technology providers and co-design effective pilots.
F2F founders Sarah Nolet and Dr Christine Pitt created the Early Adopter Program so that producers get to work alongside tech companies to help streamline the solutions to the issues they’re facing.
“We started F2F because we saw that agtech businesses were often missing the mark in terms of solutions because often they didn’t understand agriculture, farmers or where their products could fit in,” Ms Nolet said. “There are big, macro challenges facing agriculture and we know that producers are looking for solutions, but can sometimes struggle to filter between similar solutions.
“This program helps make sure technology development in agriculture starts with the problems, not the tech, and that producers are recognised for the contribution they make. The topics open for exploration are only limited by participants’ imagination. We want to hear about the challenges farmers are facing and areas where they are looking for technologies; anywhere from virtual fencing, individual animal management and remote monitoring, to automation and precision agriculture,” Ms Nolet said.
South-Australian based sheep and beef producer Penny Schulz is one of 12 graduates who have recently completed F2F’s inaugural Ideas Program – an eight-week curriculum designed to help entrepreneurial producers nail a business idea for a new product or technology.
Ms Schulz, along with co-founder Jo Williams, have advanced their idea for a tool to improve the working relationship and incentives between livestock producers and agents, and says the coaching and mentoring provided throughout the Ideas Program had been critical in helping determine the next steps in their business plan.
“F2F’s Ideas Program was one of the best decisions we’ve made for the growth of our innovative idea and give us the skills to take it to the next level,” Ms Schulz said. “It helped us to better understand our customers, refine our idea, and create a project that really has potential. The relationships we built with other participants and the advice from the coaches was invaluable. Not only did the F2F team share their commercialisation expertise but they also challenged us, which was especially beneficial.”
“I encourage producers with innovative ideas, or innovative businesses already hitting the ground, to speak to F2F and find out how their programs can support,” she said.
Applications are now open for the Early Adopter Program, closing November 20, with spaces open to individual producers, groups of producers, and consultants working with producers. Travel to in-person workshops may be required, but subsidies will be provided.
The program’s three phases will run from November 2019 to May 2020. Farmers2Founders is supported by AgriFutures Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat & Livestock Australia and Wine Australia.
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