From a local entrepreneur using ‘maggot robots’ to address food waste to one of the world’s leading generative AI experts, AgriFutures evokeAG. 2024 has unveiled a compelling lineup of local and international agrifood tech thinkers and innovators speaking at the two-day event in Perth this February.
Will AI change how and what we eat? Does the war on waste need a rethink? Where is agrifood tech investment going next? All the big questions are on the table at evokeAG. 2024, Asia-Pacific’s premier agrifood tech event, being hosted at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre from 20-21 February 2024.
For its fourth year, AgriFutures Australia’s evokeAG. event will host robust discussions about how innovation can solve major problems from feeding the world to addressing climate change, and resource management.
Harriet Mellish, AgriFutures Australia General Manager for Global Innovation Networks, said that the event will explore “examples of cutting-edge technologies, disruptive business models, groundbreaking research and development, and sustainable practices”.
“In their own way, each of these speakers is working to reshape their sectors and value chains, to build a more sustainable, resilient, productive, and profitable future,” Mellish said.
Here are some of the program highlights that’ll give you food for thought:
1. Exploring AI in agriculture
As the uptake of artificial intelligence accelerates across all aspects of society, keynote speaker Nina Schick’s Mind-bending AI: The edge of possibility will look at how AI will change how we produce, trade and consume food and agricultural commodities.
Renowned as one of the world’s first generative AI experts, Schick founded UK-based Tamang Ventures, an advisory firm working with AI and technology companies. With a background in geopolitical crises, Schick has advised world leaders including US President Joe Biden and former Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Schick will also join The great balancing act: AI, the possibilities, and the responsibilities, a panel discussion exploring the opportunities for AI to improve efficiency, production and resilience across the agrifood supply chain.
The panel features food systems entrepreneur Abi Ramanan, who founded ImpactVision, an imaging and machine learning technology startup tackling the $1 trillion food waste problem. After ImpactVision was acquired by Apeel Sciences in 2020, Ramanan had a stint as a project lead at Google’s X, the moonshot factory, working on synthetic biology in the climate space.
On this powerhouse panel you’ll also hear from Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO and director of Inari, a US biotechnology company using new breeding technology to design seeds for a more sustainable global food system.
2. Making haste on the war on waste
Did you know a third of all food we produce globally is wasted? Ramanan’s keynote, Innovating for good: How agrifood tech can digitise food supply chains and reduce food waste, will shed light on how innovations available today can solve issues like food fraud and prevent product recalls.
The circular economy will be under the microscope in the panel discussion Beyond waste: From obsolescence to value creation, featuring Murdoch University’s Professor Navid Moheimani and global civil engineering company GHD’s circular economy expert Huia Adkins.
Professor Richard Eckard, director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, will help delegates understand the importance of qualifying emissions, and take part in a discussion on the next steps to sustainable, profitable agrifood systems in Leaders and laggards: Pathways to a more sustainable agrifood landscape.
It’s also fitting that evokeAG. has enlisted a well-known voice in the war on waste as the event host: Aussie comedian and host of the ABC’s War on Waste, Craig Reucassel.
War on Waste has led to 452 high-impact waste-reducing initiatives across businesses, schools, universities, government and community organisations, according to a study by the ABC and University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.
3. ESG and investment opportunities
Where do finance and food intersect? Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), where the opportunity for financial support to the agricultural sector is only getting bigger as the need for environmental solutions grows. US entrepreneur Robyn O’Brien, founder of Sirona Ventures, will inspire attendees with the day two keynote, On a knife’s edge: The need for responsible investment.
Another keynote highlight comes from Dr Lewis Akenji, Managing Director of Germany’s Hot or Cool Institute, a public interest think tank exploring the intersection between society and sustainability. He will present Agrifood systems: Balancing the social tensions and emissions budget.
What’s next for agrifood tech investment? The Pooling our resources towards a collaborative investment landscape session will give you a rare insight from heavy hitters from both Australia and abroad.
4. The exceptional edge of Australian agrifood
Living up to evokeAG. 2024’s theme of ‘Exceptional Edge’, Australian agrifood innovators will show how we’re using our exceptional edge to be a global heavyweight in agricultural production and sustainability in a discussion likened to a great US presidential debate.
The Great Exchange discussion will feature changemakers like Olympia Yarger, whose food waste management startup Goterra produces high-tech modular systems, dubbed ‘Maggot Robots’, using insects to process food and organic waste, reducing it by 95 per cent in just 24 hours. Goterra recently won Best Sustainability Startup at the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards.
Another guest will be Justin Webb, founder and managing director of AgriWebb, an agtech SaaS company that manages more than 20 million livestock across 150 million acres with $50 billion in agricultural assets.
5. Networking and Startup Alley
Throughout both days, guests can use the RSM business lounge for meetings; drop into the networking exhibition to meet event partners to see what’s new in agrifood innovation; and pay a visit to the popular Startup Alley, featuring nearly 40 local and global startups leading the way in agrifood innovation. We spoke to indoor vertical farming startup InvertiGro recently about the direct impact exhibiting at Startup Alley has had on their business.
There’s also a range of sideline events, workshops, functions and even regional tours to see how Western Australia is doing agritech, primary production and innovation in Perth and beyond.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with AgriFutures Australia.