Canberra Innovation Network proudly partners with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI NSW) through their GATE program, helping to support agtech innovators and entrepreneurs from across our region. DPI NSW is the largest rural research provider in Australia, with over $500M in R&D projects, 25 research stations and 13,000 hectares of trial sites across NSW; employing 650 scientific and technical staff and belonging globally to top 1% of research organisations in agriculture, plant and animal sciences.

Over the past six months we have been working with seven teams in Orange, Canberra and the region to help accelerate commercialisation of their technologies and ideas. The DPI researchers, innovators as well as external entrepreneurs have been through bootcamps, pitch practice labs and received weekly support from our network of experienced business mentors.

The 2019 cohort represented an exciting diversity of ideas and inventions addressing some of the biggest challenges in agriculture, including:

  • SolutionBlue – highly productive maggot farming for fish food addressing the industry shortages
  • AgSeek – simple to use and highly reliable and trustworthy agtech comparator website helping farmers choose the right technology solutions
  • BBB – 100% efficient Bioherbicide for Bathurst Burr invasive weed
  • Karnal Bunt Diagnostic Kit – Rapid testing kit for Karnal Bunt – a bio-security hazard with the potential to shut down the Australian wheat industry
  • Readycado – a tool to test the ripeness of avocados aiming to eliminate avocado wastage
  • Vinewatch – an information platform connecting the NSW wine industry with on demand science and data to help producers increase quality of their wine
  • Score4sure – a tool to objectively measure and automate the measurement of the body score of sheep and goats.

Tuesday the 10th of September was the final event of the program, DPI NSW GATE Demo Day held at the Sofitel in Sydney in conjunction with SparkLabs Cultiv8 Demo Day. Our innovators had the opportunity to pitch on the stage in front of a massive screen, having been working on their pitches for months and finally enjoying their rockstar moment.  Five minutes each, under lights on the stage, they delivered their message with authenticity and passion, asking the audience to connect with them and their visions. The 250 people attending included investors, potential commercial partners, banks, lawyers and other interested organisations. After the pitches the innovators had an opportunity to network with the crowd and seek opportunities to progress their business and ideas.

The pitches were excellent, and everyone had great conversations during the networking. One of the innovators reflected “people were genuinely interested to challenge you and you have a great opportunity to validate yourself.” We look forward to seeing how the ideas and businesses progress.

“It is so rewarding to see the progress these entrepreneurs make in such a short time from having just an idea to a well-tested and market validated value proposition that can be pitched successfully to investors and partners on a global stage,” says Liz Kobold, Canberra Innovation Network’s manager of the program.

After the thrill of demo day, we are excited to be working on piloting the first Grand Challenge with DPI seeking world’s leading new solutions in the field of food traceability. Keep an eye on our Facebook and newsletter for more information – there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.

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