Agtech co-working space for entrepreneurs opens as SproutX completes first pre-accelerator intake with 100 national startup finalists
SproutX, a joint initiative between Findex and the National Farmers’ Federation, today welcomed Michael Dean, co-founder of global agtech platform Agfunder, to the board of the national agtech innovation hub, providing international expertise to Australia’s newest agtech startups.
In a move to bolster the industry, SproutX also opened the nation’s first co-working space dedicated exclusively to agtech startups. The space — which is free of charge for eligible startups — is the centre of agtech in Australia, designed to help foster new startups in Victoria and continue boosting the country’s $60 billion agriculture industry and support the next innovation boom through agtech.
“We’re really excited to have finally opened our doors to some impressive startups in the agtech space,” said Sam Trethewey, General Manager of SproutX. “Australia’s biggest natural advantage lies in agriculture so this co-working hub is designed to connect innovators, investors and the agriculture community to help bring these new ideas to fruition.”
Michael Dean, a co-founder of the world’s largest agricultural crowd equity platform Agfunder, will bring more than 20 years of experience in the space to SproutX. Dean previously helped develop agribusiness opportunities in Africa through his business SeedRock Africa Agriculture, and has helped major Australian agriculture businesses develop and structure in the industry.
After spending four years overseas building AgFunder and sourcing thousands of agtech deals, Dean has returned to Australia to focus on helping new agtech startups. “Australians have a unique cultural and historical passion for agriculture,” Dean said. “Our farmers are among the best in the world, yet the industry isn’t getting the support and funding that it needs to drive technology innovation to boost farm efficiency and productivity.”
“On a per capita basis, Australia spends 32 times less than the USA on agricultural venture capital. SproutX is the initiative Australia needs to address this imbalance and drive our nation’s next innovation boom”.
Dean will be using his expertise to mentor Australia’s newest agtech startups and help drive the industry forward through technology, innovation and sustainability.
SproutX recently completed its first pre-accelerator intake, where it helped 100 agtech startups and entrepreneurs develop their ideas in food, fibre and agriculture, and move toward commercialisation of their products. The pre-accelerator culminated in an online pitch night on Twitter where the top 10 startups pitched their agtech ideas to over 1.4 million people who tuned in via @AgChatOz, one of Australia’s largest online communities. The pitch night was a major success, with some ideas already garnering interest from investors, government and industry.
To continue seeding agtech startup companies in Australia, SproutX has opened its pre-accelerator course content to the public under an open source license.
“Our goal is to make Australia the number one destination for agtech and that’s why we’re opening up our content to everyone.” said Andrew Lai, Accelerator Director of SproutX. “We’ve been stunned by the quality raw talent that has come through our program and who knows how many more people are out there who would benefit from learning best practice methods.”