This year marks the 20th anniversary of Australia’s first ever incubator, Cicada Innovations. To date, Cicada Innovations has incubated over 100 startups, and helped more than 300 companies raise over $450 million in venture capital and government grants, create hundreds of jobs, build local manufacturing capability, file more than 500 patents and trademarks, and launch more than 700 deep tech innovations globally (more information here).
In celebration of 20 years of fostering Australian innovation, this is the final post in a 5-part series commissioned by Startup Daily from CEO Sally-Ann Williams to highlight some of the individual companies produced by the incubator.
It took an aeronautical engineer to come up with the idea: combining satellite data, sensor technology, and advanced analytics to help farmers produce more food with less fertiliser and water.
Agtech company, FluroSat, was founded in 2016 by aeronautical engineer Anastasia Volkova (an alumna of USYD) to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
This is because the industry currently relies on fertilisers that contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are all minerals that harm aquatic environments when they leak into rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
In Volkova’s words, “One of the main issues behind the problem of agricultural pollution is fertiliser waste. Back in the day, it didn’t make sense to me. The industry that’s supposed to sustain and support our environment is in fact hurting it.”
Shortly thereafter in 2017, FluroSat entered the Cicada Innovations incubator after participating in its agtech accelerator program, GrowLab.
The team immediately began work on FluroSat’s ‘FluroSense’ analytics engine, which assesses the exact amount of nutrients that each field needs, helping to reduce fertiliser use by up to a quarter, and the water use associated with it.
The technology also monitors crop growth, detecting abnormal growth patterns and crop stress caused by disease, pests, water logging and hail or frost damage.
FluroSat’s success so far reminds us why Cicada Innovations is dedicated to supporting deep tech startups. Not only are they thriving commercially, but their value exceeds their valuation.
They are helping to transform the industry that feeds us and are doing so sustainably and with less waste – it’s hard to put a price on that. But that doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t super impressive anyway.
With its technology now monitoring 10.8 million acres of farmland across 14 countries, FluroSat has drawn on Cicada Innovations for access to advisors, mentors and the talent it needs to grow.
As a result, the firm has more than 25 staff, and $5 million in funding from Microsoft’s M12 and Main Sequence Ventures, and AirTree, and has premises at Cicada Innovations as well as remote staff in the US and in Kiev.