Nearly a year after launching, national agtech innovation hub SproutX has announced the lineup of startups accepted into the SproutX Accelerator Program, the first agtech-based accelerator within Australia.
Out of a pool of 100 applicants, 11 startups have been selected for the program, with each set to receive mentoring from agtech industry experts and $40,000 in capital in exchange for eight percent equity.
Participating startups will also be provided with office space at SproutX’s Melbourne coworking space for the six month duration of the program and be given an opportunity to access additional angel and later-stage investment.
Follow-on funding of up to $1 million will be supplied by SproutX’s Venture Capital Fund alongside a series of external local investors.
SproutX Accelerator director, Andrew Lai, said the program would help startups teams across the agtech space commercialise their ideas and accelerate their growth towards becoming “world class” businesses.
“SproutX exists to find and support amazing teams who are focused on taking agriculture to the next level. Our first batch of startups have amazing potential,” he said.
Emerging in September last year, SproutX’s innovation hub was developed as way to spur the growth of Australia’s agtech boom, alongside a $10 million accelerator fund supported by Artesian Venture Partners to help kickstart innovative ideas.
Preluding the accelerator was a SproutX pre-accelerator program, which saw 100 startups complete the program online, with the top 10 pitching their ideas on Twitter.
Both Findex and the National Farmer’s Federation helped form the initiative, with agribusiness services company RuralCo joining the accelerator as a distribution partner.
Under the agreement with SproutX, RuralCo will leverage its network of 600-plus retail stores across Australia to help distribute each participant’s agtech products. Financial services company Findex will also be supporting the accelerator, and will assist the accelerator’s cohort with accounting and financial advice.
Thomas Paule, Chief marketing and digital officer of Findex and board member of SproutX, said the company was supporting the program as a way to help push the agtech economy forward over the next 50 years.
“Regional Australia is the lifeblood of our business and we want to see it prosper. SproutX will give our farming clients an advantage in business improvement by giving them first access to the technology,” he said.
Although the accelerator’s cohort is agtech-based, the diversity of ideas is extensive, ranging from blockchain to hydroponic vertical farming, the method of growing plants indoors and without soil, bottom-to-top.
Applant, a startup working in this space and selected for the accelerator, has developed the “aTree”, a hydroponic vertical farm that uses 95 percent less water to grow plants than traditional agriculture methods.
The full list of the cohort is below:
A mobile app that uses blockchain technology to facilitate the transparency and security of transactions within farming networks.
A startup developing the aTree, a vertical garden that grows fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs inside a home.
Developing the ‘SnapTrap’, a trap monitoring system to help optimise pest management and biosecurity for fruit growers.
A platform providing farmers with insights to help them optimise their produce.
An app based using Integrated Pest Management software to help farmers manage crops.
An Internet of Things (IoT) startup currently developing a GPS ear tag for cattle, to help farmers locate their cattle over huge distances and detect important events.
Tie Up Farming
Hub & Spoke MSU
Image: Sam Trethewey. Source: Supplied.