The seven-month program was originally envisioned to fill a hole in the agtech funding ecosystem as identified by SparkLabs.
“We looked around at the very early stage and there are a lot of incubators and early-stage support. Plus, there’s a fair amount of smart capital coming in at the slightly later stages now that VCs understand agtech more holistically,” said Cultiv8 managing director Guy Hudson.
The accelerator is a joint effort between SparkLabs and Australia’s NSW Department of Primary Industries. The program will be based outside of Sydney at the Orange Agricultural Institute in the Global AgTech Ecosystem (GATE). Participants will be able to access up to A$100,000 ($80,000) for an agreed stake.
Program participants will access industry-leading mentors, the NSW Department of Primary Industries Innovation and Technology Research platforms, linkages with relevant corporates such as KPMG Australia and Minter Ellison plus exposure to the SparkLabs Accelerator network and GAN.
Hudson called the influx of offshore applicants for the accelerator’s first cohort “surprising, but totally intuitive.”
“Being a part of an accelerator in Australia means that you can double the pace of growth in your company and get double the testing,” Hudson explained. European and US companies jumped at the chance to spend their winters testing and improving their products in Australia, he said.
As part of the program, companies have access to over 13,000 hectares of experimental farmland, spread across four climatic zones via a partnership with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and their new Global Ag Tech Ecosystem (GATE).
Startups applying for the Cultiv8 program were also seeking access to the Asian market, said Hudson — seeking to take advantage of Australia’s strong links to Asia’s export market.
Though this first cohort is quite international with companies from Norway, the UK, the US, and Singapore, it does also include three Australian companies. Hudson imagines that this share may grow as agtech startups in Australia mature.
“One of our objectives was to bridge a gap in support for Australian ag-tech businesses, in the first year we have had a great response from offshore that raised the bar for all applicants. We saw some brilliant Australian start-ups, some of whom we passed on to the DPI for incubation and are excited about the prospects for next years cohort,” said Hudson.
See the full cohort here:
Aquabyte – Norway
Aquabyte applies computer vision and machine learning algorithms to aquaculture fish farms, primarily focusing on salmon farms in Norway.
BioCarbon leverages data analytics and robotics to provide automated drone planting services to restoration project managers and landholders. These data enabled systems help to scale up restoration activities, and reduce cost.
Evaptainers – US
Evaptainers creates low-cost refrigerators that run on water. Because the company’s core technology requires no electricity to operate, it is ideal for low-income, off-grid consumers that face issues with food spoilage.
Farmbot – Australia
Farmbot designs simple to install and use, high impact sensors. Their initial products, satellite and 3G connected monitors measure and analyse water use and consumption in stock tanks, dams, turkeys nests and irrigation channels. Farmbot monitors are specifically designed to be self-installed and operational within 10 minutes of receiving the monitors.
Hydroleap – Singapore
Hydroleap have developed a cutting-edge water treatment technology that works the best on high suspended solids, COD and turbid wastewater. It is designed for wastewater from construction, food and beverage, oil & gas, tannery, mining and semiconductor industries and uses electricity instead of chemical treatments.
James Tyler – Australia
James Tyler has built an ‘Australian farm to Chinese table’ platform that is able to deliver fresh Australian produce to over 90 cities around China.
ripe.io – US
ripe.io is designing a transparent digital food supply chain using blockchain and IoT. ripe.io harnesses quality food data to create the blockchain of food – a food quality network that maps the food journey to answer what’s in our food, where it comes from, and what has happened to it.
Secure Impact – Australia
Secure Impact is using etherium blockchain technology to solve the succession problem in Australian farms, with a clear view to similar markets facing the same issue.
Smart Ag – US
SmartAg develops healthcare information technology for the pollination industry. The company provides bee health diagnostic technology to commercial pollination businesses and corporate farms, thus allowing them to control bee loss.