SproutX, the first agritech accelerator in Australia, has accepted 11 startups into its first cohort. These companies will receive an A$40,000 ($30.4k) equity investment from the Melbourne-based program in exchange for an 8% equity stake. The 6-month course focuses on financial modeling, marketing, legal and intellectual property issues distribution partnerships to help startups solve their biggest issue; getting their products into the hands of customers.
Startups will either be based at the accelerator’s co-working space in Melbourne or will be flown in every five weeks for a one-week intensive work session.
SproutX’s unique value proposition is its focus on helping the startups get customers, according to Andrew Lai, director of the program. Its partnership with RuralCo, Australia’s second largest ag retailer, is one clear way startups can get access to customers, he said, adding that RuralCo can get new products in front of customers in two weeks.
“RuralCo has become one of Australia’s largest agribusinesses, and we are always seeking to improve and grow. Supporting these innovative startups and entrepreneurs with our market leading distribution channels and expertise shows our commitment to help develop our industry,” said RuralCo CEO Travis Dillon.
Also partnering with SproutX is Findex, a financial services provider to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with 120 locations in Australia and a leading provider to agribusiness.
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Thomas Paule, chief marketing and digital officer of Findex and board member for SproutX said: “SproutX will give our farming clients an advantage in business improvement by giving them first access to the technology.“ He continued, “We support SproutX because we believe the agtech sector will push our economy forward over the next 50 years.”
The program will kick off with a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition, where startups will pitch, and the expected audience of 300 will vote. The eleven startups in the cohort are:
Agriledger uses a blockchain system to create a marketplace for small farmers in developing countries to buy, sell, and trade produce, creating a digital ledger for a cooperative farming model.
OutofBox Solutions is creating monitoring technology for livestock. Its first product will focus on foot health.
Applant has created an in-home hydroponic growing system that does not require electricity. It has a user-operated pump to power the unit to grow pesticide-free produce at home.
Snaptrap is developing a “smart trap” for fruit flies that can analyze the problem and suggest interventions in real-time.
Bloombox Co sells flowers direct-to-consumer from growers on a subscription model. It claims to reduce waste and improve profitability for the growers.
thingc is developing a precision farming application using big data to help farmers grow more efficiently.
Farmapp has developed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) software-based service that includes a combination of scouting and fumigation apps with sensors for automated pest management.
TieUp Farming designs customized precision agriculture and traceability platforms for farmers.
Hub & Spoke MSU is developing a non-farm slaughtering service that incorporates the highest standards of animal welfare, state-of-the-art processing methods, and environmentally sustainable practices.
Water Save produces an automated farm irrigation solution, which can be monitored remotely. The company claims to reduce irrigation costs by up to 20%, and the platform is building machine learning capabilities to monitor & reduce the level of chemicals applied to crops
IoTAg Pty Ltd has developed a smart cattle ear tag enabling farmers to track cattle movement and monitor for key breeding-related events, as well as alert them to illnesses and births.