Monash University has partnered with Bosch Australia to create an agtech facility in Melbourne, which will work on the creation and testing of smart farming techniques.
The development will sit on one hectare of land at Bosch’s Clayton headquarters, making room for a development centre and agtech ‘launch pad’ facility, which will include a smart farm. Here, Monash said it will look to work on applying technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and advanced sensor technology to farming.
Ken Sloan, Monash deputy vice chancellor and vice president (enterprise), said the collaboration with Bosch will give the university the opportunity to lead the advancement of the agtech sector, the “next big growth industry” for Australia.
“With rising temperatures and rapid population growth requiring food production to double by mid-century, it’s clear we need major innovations in how we eat and farm. We need inventions to increase yields, nutrient quality and sustainability of our food production to cope with the world demand and climate,” Sloan said.
With the global population forecast to grow to 9.1 billion by 2050, food demand is expected to rise by 50 percent in the next 15 years, and 70 percent by 2050.
Sloan said, “The agtech launch pad could prove instrumental in driving long-term collaborative efforts to address global food security and significantly advance farming practices to safeguard against rising demands.”
This is the latest announcement for Monash in the food and agriculture space.
Having last year launched a Food Innovation Centre to provide industry with product development services and research capabilities, the university this year opened a Food Incubator and announced yoghurt company Chobani as its first client. The Incubator includes three industrial kitchens, a food grade scale up lab, and ‘collaborative lounge’.
Monash also last year signed an agreement with the Nutrition and Health Research Institute (NHRI) of the state-owned Chinese food company, COFCO Corporation.
Under the agreement, the university’s Food Innovation Centre has access to NHRI’s technical resources, knowledge of the Chinese market, regulatory expertise, and market delivery platforms to open supply opportunities for Australian exporters.
Bosch too has been looking to this space.
The company in April led a $6.5 million Series A funding round for Australian agtech startup The Yield.
Founded in 2014, The Yield is developing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in conjunction with food growers to help improve customer yields and decision making on-farm, combining sensors and other hardware with a data analytics platform.
Its flagship product is Sensing+, a microclimate sensing solution, measuring data from various points around a farm, analysing it, and delivering to growers through an app predictions on growing conditions, allowing them to make better decisions around when to harvest, irrigate, plant, feed, and protect their crops.
Bosch also in September signed a three year research collaboration agreement with Bayer aimed at developing smart spraying technology to make the application of crop protection products more efficient.
Image: an artist’s impression of the facility. Source: Supplied.