Ag tech

Agtech accelerator Sparklabs Cultiv8 is backing 10 cleantech startups in a new program

- June 2, 2023 3 MIN READ
Cultiv8 Funds Management partners Jonathon Quigley and Malcolm Nutt
Cultiv8 Funds Management partners Jonathon Quigley and Malcolm Nutt
Agri-food tech accelerator SparkLabs Cultiv8 is turning its attention to cleantech startups in a new program to fund and develop them.

The SparkLabs Cultiv8 CleanTech Accelerator has selected 10 startups for its initial cohort backed by Malcolm Nutt and Jonathon Quigley’s VC fund Cultiv8 Funds Management.

Since its launch in 2017, the SparkLabs accelerator program has backed and mentored 50 agritech startups, now worth a combined $1.6 billion, which have together raised more than $500 million.

Malcolm Nutt said the addition of cleantech to the portfolio made sense as Australia faces the mounting pressures of climate change.

“Australia should be globally recognised as a leader in this space – the Australian Agri-Food Tech scene has an exceptional track record of innovation and there is more happening all the time,” he said.

“Agriculture is essential to any conversation around climate change, we are excited to contribute through innovation and collaboration with the leading research houses in Australia.”

Nutt adds that from a policy perspective, investors also need to considering these types of issues both from the perspective of their own ESG commitments and the broader trends in global policy around carbon and climate, as well as food security.

“Two examples are the Australian carbon target – 43% below 2005 levels by 2030 -and Singapore’s policy target of having 30% of their food grown domestically by 2030. Australian agri exporters have to meet European standards around carbon in order to participate in those markets,” he said.

Jonathon Quigley said they saw an opportunity to highlight the innovation in NSW and Australia and support the startups involved to commercialisation journey.

“This year’s participants zero in on areas such as biodiversity, resource efficiency and renewable energy, and we are excited to partner with these businesses that will contribute to a more sustainable planet,” he said.

“In the past 10 years local investments in agri-food tech have risen from $3 billion to over $50 billion, so there’s a huge groundswell in this direction.”

The new six-month cleantech program will be run from SparkLabs Cultiv8’s base at The GATE, at the Orange Agricultural Institute.

The startups in the cohort are:

  • AusBioEnergy is a closed loop manufacturing system to produce competitively priced, scalable and sustainable biomethanol.
  • Blue Carbon S2C is focused on developing and financing blue, teal and green carbon projects that help to restore large-scale nature-based ecosystems.
  • Carbonaught is delivering organic fertiliser derived from enhanced rock weathering to permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Clean Eyre Global is a land based Asparagopsis seaweed production business committed to accelerating the commercialisation of ruminant animal feed supplements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • DownForce Technology provides a novel platform for precise and efficient calculation of natural capital and ecosystem services, empowering farmers and land stewards.
  • ExoFlare has developed a platform for the food and agricultural industries to evaluate and manage biosecurity hazards in real-time while adhering to reporting standards.
  • NanoSoils uses silica nanoparticles to directly administer agrochemicals to plants, reducing pesticide residues in the environment.
  • Packamama has reinvented the wine bottle to make it more climate-friendly. Savings in space, weight and energy mean better bottles that slash carbon emissions in the supply chain.
  • Ten Carbon Chemistry has developed unique antimicrobials that are in trials on fresh produce to extend shelf life; on packaging to improve safety and reduce emissions as well as other industrial, agricultural and hygiene industry applications.
  • Wollemi has developed a platform that automates scenario analysis and climate vulnerability assessment, enabling seamless integration of climate risk into decision-making. Their technology quantifies and reports climate risks for land-based and agricultural assets, from asset to portfolio level.

Also supporting the program are the Department of Primary Industries, Meat and Livestock Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Agriculture Innovation Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation and Science and Technology Australia.