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SparkLabs Group partners with NSW Government to launch food and agtech accelerator Cultiv8

Asia accelerator network SparkLabs Groups has partnered with the NSW Government’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to launch Cultiv8, an accelerator targeting food and agtech startups across the state and regional areas.

Based in the Global Agtech Ecosystem (GATE), a new agricultural global and research and development centre located in Orange’s Agricultural Institute, the accelerator will provide accepted teams access to an eight month long mentorship and training program.

Participants will be granted office space within GATE and gain access to the accelerator’s network of VC’s, angel investors and executives, with the ability to access up to $100,000 in funding in exchange for an agreed equity amount.

By focusing on startups working with agtech and foodtech solutions, the accelerator will help “digitise” the target sectors and contribute towards building a sustainable future, according to SparkLabs Cultiv8 partner Malcolm Nutt.

“We intend to cultivate early and growth stage Ag and Food Tech companies with researchers, farmers, investors and global corporate partners,” he said.

Michael Bullen, the DPI’s deputy director general, investment and business development, said the DPI looked to partner with SparkLabs in order to create a new avenue for growth within the sustainability sectors.

“The NSW DPI has more than 500 active research and development projects with a total value of $500 million, almost of half of which is invested by partners. We know that for every dollar spent on R&D there is more than ten times return on the value of that investment,” he said.

“The partnership with SparkLabs Cultiv8 will provide another way to encourage the growth and adoption of the type of innovative approaches which have always characterised the NSW primary industries sector.”

Cultiv8 startups will have the opportunity to access the DPI’s research platforms to help them grow their solutions, and be able to tap into Cultiv8’s corporate partners, including MinterEllison and KPMG Australia.

According to KPMG Innovate partner, James Mabbott, the company’s “high growth venture specialists” will be working beside the cohort to help them build towards being “investment ready”.

“Enabling Australia’s agtech sector to flourish and generate foreign direct investment and returns for Australian entrepreneurs and farmers is why KPMG are involved in SparkLabs Cultiv8,” said Mabbott.

Cultiv8 marks the sixth accelerator to launch for SparkLabs, ahead of its existing programs operating within Beijing, Taipei and Seoul. Traditionally focusing on internet-of-things, fintech and “general technology”, Cultiv8 is the first program from the organisation looking towards ag and fintech.

Cultiv8 participants will be exposed to SparkLabs’ existing accelerator network, with the program set to commence in Q2 next year.

The accelerator is the latest in NSW to focus its sights on regional startups, with Slingshot and the University of Newcastle (UoN) partnering in August to launch the Icon Accelerator Program.

Focusing on startups working within the NSW’s Hunter region, the accelerator provides teams accepted into the program with a ten week long mentorship program, as well as $25,000 seed funding in exchange for 10 percent equity.

The first agtech-only accelerator SproutX also kicked off this year, announcing its first cohort of startups accepted into the program.

Participating startups work at SproutX’s Melbourne coworking space for the six month duration of the program and are provided with $40,00 in capital in exchange for eight percent equity.

Image: SparkLabs 2016 Demo Day –  cofounder Frank Meehan (centre). Source: Hackernoon.