New world of ag-tech and innovation start-up

Entrepreneurs from across the world will have access to a new global research and development centre based in the NSW Central West from early 2018.

A partnership struck between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and SparkLabs Group will see one of the world’s leading accelerators set down roots in Orange.

DPI Director General Scott Hansen announced the partnership and the creation of the Global AgTech Ecosystem (GATE) Innovation Centre at DPI’s Orange Agricultural Institute.

“The GATE will fast-track research and development, to get new ideas, technologies and services into the hands of our primary producers and industry to boost productivity,” he said.

“Agricultural technology developers will have access to the deep technical expertise of DPI and other research and development organisations so that they can bring innovations to market.

“The GATE will be a one-stop-shop for collaboration, with strong links to international markets and other government agricultural agencies globally.”

DPI will offer incubation services for individuals or start-ups with research and development output which has commercial potential, while SparkLabs’ Australian operation – SparkLabs Cultiv8 – will provide accelerator services to hasten prototyping, scaling and growth.

The GATE will also be connected to both Charles Sturt University and the University of New England through DPI’s strong long term partnerships.

“The DPI brings great strength to the partnership. We are Australia’s largest agricultural research and development organisation and have more than $500m in current projects,” Mr Hansen said.

SparkLabs co-founder Frank Meehan said the centre would position Australia as the premier accelerator location for agricultural and food technology entrepreneurs.

“This centre will offer an unrivalled combination of access to government research talent, farms for prototyping, corporate access and a global accelerator network,” he said.

“Nowhere in the world can agriculture and food technology start-ups get access to so much in one centre, which offers a tremendous opportunity to create new platforms and systems.”

Each year the GATE will host up to 20 projects, and will offer five key services:

  • Lean start-up and mentoring services to expand capabilities of innovators (short courses and mentoring);
  • Incubator services and support to assist proof of concept stages (3 month residency);
  • Accelerator services and support for prototype scale up and production reliability (6 month residency);
  • Commercialisation and business support (ongoing services to all participants);
  • Investor showcases (linking start-ups to resources).

Source: NSW DPI