Applications have opened for the 2024 evokeAG. Startup Program to help boost our nation’s best agrifood tech innovators. Centred around the two-day event in February 2024, the program gives applicants a unique chance to connect with potential investors, corporates and customers. Startup Daily spoke to an exciting success story from the 2023 program.
Indoor vertical farming innovator InvertiGro is on a mission to “feed the world the smarter way”.
Founded in 2017 by Ben Lee and Paul Millett, the Sydney-based company has pioneered sustainable, scalable, efficient and economically viable systems to help businesses grow fresh produce – anywhere and everywhere.
“We’re about building a business that will enable others to adopt the technology in an affordable way,” Millett said.
“To be able to build their businesses to make money, or save money if they’re looking to improve their supply chain.”
Just like the abundance of fresh produce on its signature InvertiCube and InvertiWall products, InvertiGro’s impact is growing rapidly. In six years they’ve scaled their team from two to 40, won countless international awards and are currently in the midst of a Series A raise of $12 million.
Demand for their ‘plug and play’ tech is spreading across a spectrum of industries, from food retailers to world-class resorts, property developers, nurseries and medicinal cannabis growers.
“We’re starting to win big contracts now,” Millett said.
“We’ve been looking and building our presence and our brand across the planet and now we’re starting to win against the big established players, which is really exciting.”
The evokeAG. effect
While Millett assures us there’s more news to come on that front, a recent win for InvertiGro was its selection as a key startup to exhibit at evokeAG., Asia-Pacific’s premier agrifood tech and innovation event.
“It was the first such event that we’ve actually had one of our InvertiCubes on display, outside of direct customer sales or our showroom in Sydney,” he said.
“We sold the cube that we had there on display. So there was definitely direct business there off the back of those [conversations]. We’ve had many conversations since, so I’m hopeful they’ll bear fruit in due course as well.
“We’re delighted with the uptake and the interest. It was definitely a good call to join this year.”
Applications have just opened for the 2024 evokeAG. Startup Program, which will give agrifood tech startups and scaleups the chance to directly connect with potential investors, partners and customers at evokeAG., to be held in Perth on February 20-21, 2024.
There are 29 spots available for Australian and global startups to exhibit at evokeAG.‘s Startup Alley, a showcase of agrifood tech’s brightest ideas solving problems that will affect generations to come.
Ten of these startups will also be selected by AgriFutures Australia to demonstrate their technology to event-goers on the demo stage; and a small contingent of Australian and New Zealand companies will be chosen to present to potential customers and investors at the event’s Culinary Capital Dinner.
For the first time ever, AgriFutures will also be accepting applications from evokeAG. Startup Alumni to exhibit at the new Scaleup Station. Scaleups who have previously participated in Startup Alley, and have evolved from emerging agrifood tech startups to scaleup businesses, will have the opportunity demonstrate their advancements, connect with potential partners, and further accelerate their growth journey.
Since its launch in 2019, the evokeAG. Startup Program has helped drive investment and growth of more than 80 Australian and global agrifood tech startups.
Harriet Mellish, AgriFutures General Manger, Global Innovation Networks, said they’re looking for applications from companies who can show their “Exceptional Edge” – the 2024 evokeAG. theme.
“We want to see applications from companies that will help, or already are helping, to revolutionise the agrifood sector, have strong market potential, and a clear vision for the future,” she said.
“evokeAG. 2024 is about showcasing our exceptional edge to the world and helping our delegates – especially producers – find their cutting edge.
“Through the program, startups and scaleups with exceptional technology will have an opportunity to demonstrate their exceptional edge and connect with potential investors, partners, and customers.”
It certainly helped InvertiGro reach the right people. “It was exactly the audience that we needed to be talking to,” Paul Millett said.
“The big industrial and food companies, and definitely a mix of investors, industry players, potential partners in government and people looking to break into this space for educational purposes, if not for actual food production.
“Being in Startup Alley was great for us. And from a cost perspective, being a small business, that helped give us a platform as well.”
The hands-on difference
For other agrifood tech startups looking to make the most of the opportunity, Millett says showing off the technology in person is a huge advantage.
“What I did notice, and was delighted by, was that we could have a real product for people to see,” he said.
“People can go and touch and feel and ideally taste the produce and see that this technology is real and this is the future of farming. I think that does help from an education perspective – the industry demonstrating it’s not vapourware, this stuff’s real. And actually what Australia is bringing to the planet is truly innovative and pretty exciting.”
Whether startup or scaleup, evokeAG. presents a chance to throw greater support and resources behind businesses driving positive change.
More funding can create more impact, says Millett.
“I think a key message is to help the Aussie startups, because we are doing some amazing stuff and breaking ground that others haven’t cracked globally,” he said.
“You want to keep the prosperity and the IP here and drive the business from Australia.”
Applications for the evokeAG. 2024 Startup Program are open now and close Monday, 23 October 2023. To apply, visit evokeag.com/startups, or to purchase tickets to evokeAG., visit www.evokeag.com/evokeag-2024.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with AgriFutures Australia.