In just three years, investment in Australian agrifood tech has skyrocketed. With the planet’s rapidly growing population, never-ending climate concerns, and an urgent shift towards sustainability, the market for innovative agrifood tech has never been so hungry.
The golden age of agrifood tech investment is upon us, if you ask John Harvey, managing director of AgriFutures Australia.
“When we first started looking at agrifood tech, probably six, seven years ago now, total investment globally was about $2 billion in startups,” says John. “Last year, ag funders estimated it was around $50 billion.”
While global figures indicate a surge in interest across the board, the impressive trajectory of growth is most obvious in our own backyard.
Following the first-ever AgriFutures evokeᴬᴳ event, the total investment in Aussie agrifood tech in 2019 was about USD $90 million. By 2021, it was USD $360.4 million.
The timing couldn’t be better for the return of Asia Pacific’s premier agrifood tech event, AgriFutures evokeᴬᴳ, after a two-year hiatus. Over two action-packed days (February 21 and 22), the greatest minds in agrifood tech will gather at the Adelaide Convention Centre to explore, collaborate and support the innovative ideas of their peers. From farmers to founders, investors to scientists, it will be a who’s who of agrifood tech.
John gave Startup Daily a preview of what to expect from this year’s event.
Making a difference on the ground
The theme of evokeᴬᴳ 2023 is Down To Earth, exploring the opportunity around technology and its potential to actually make a difference outside of a theoretical conversation. With a focus on practical and impactful innovation, AgriFutures is looking to support collaboration between all kinds of agrifood tech players; from those with funding, to those on the ground and in the paddocks.
“We’re looking for startups, we’re looking for investors, we’re looking for researchers,” John tells Startup Daily. “[People] who are really interested in making a difference on the ground.”
According to John, anybody who’s interested in the future of Australian agriculture, or agriculture globally, needs to be in the room. More than 1500 delegates are expected to pass through the doors, with more than 125 speakers lined up to address this year’s theme.
“We’ve got a real mixture of corporates, investors, startups, researchers, and government there in the one room,” John says. “It’s basically the biggest premier event in the southern hemisphere to do with agricultural innovation.”
evokeAG. 2023 will feature more than 40 startups in Startup Alley showcasing their ideas and technology to investors from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Europe and the US. In addition, eight trade missions from New Zealand, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Israel and the Middle East and North Africa region.
Given this extraordinary trajectory of growth and potential in Australia’s agrifood tech climate, the voices of emerging players are taken very seriously.
“It’s very important to me and to the AgriFutures board that we listen to the next generation coming through,” John says. “Hear their ideas, hear their aspirations, and see what we can do to support them”.
Watch John’s full interview:
To infinity and beyond: tackling the big issues
At its core, evokeᴬᴳ 2023 is all about exploring the ways in which innovative and new technologies can solve some of the biggest problems facing the future of agriculture. Feeding the growing population, integrating sustainability, and rebuilding the sector following the impact of the pandemic are all headlining topics of discussion this year.
“Feeding the world’s still a big challenge,” says John. “The shift in the geopolitical landscape since we’ve had COVID has been massive.”
The most pressing issue in the agricultural sector right now is the population growth across the planet and how to feed all those extra mouths.
“We’re still trying to feed a population which is likely to grow up to 10 billion by 2050,” John says. “So there’s no shortage of challenges and innovation’s going to be critical to solving those challenges.”
Since COVID, the cost of inputs into agriculture have gone up significantly. Globally, John says researchers and founders alike are shifting towards using carbon neutrals, diving into technology that promotes efficiency and sustainability, without costing an arm and a leg.
“It’s a pretty exciting place to be and we try and capture all of those conversations, all of that energy, all of that buzz at evokeᴬᴳ,” says John.
View the full two-day 2023 program here, including all speakers, partners and networking events. Tickets are on track to sell out. Purchase your tickets here.
If you are an investor who would like to attend the investor-only event please reach out to Lauren Sharkey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with AgriFutures.
Feature image: AdobeStock
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