What I learned from my first #AgTech Meetup

What I learned from my first #AgTech Meetup

It takes a lot to get me out of the house during Canberra’s winter, but a chance to hear Sarah Nolet from AgThentic was too good to pass up. A genuine Silicone Valley native with a bunch of qualifications from MIT and a passion for agriculture, Sarah is perfectly placed to provide a perspective on the AgTech scene in Australia. The Canberra Region AgTech Meetup was facilitated by Tony Mahar, CEO of the National Farmers Federation, and with input from a highly engaged audience here is what I learned: The venture capital, Silicon Valley model may not be the right fit for agriculture. Agricultural R&D tends to take a long time and the Australian R&D ecosystem is based on socialising outputs and prioritising a public good. This is not the model most investors want. The gap between AgTech and Agriculture needs to be bridged. There are plenty of companies with tech solutions looking for a problem to solve, rather than genuinely engaging with farmers. To create value, developers should bring farmers into product design/development early and often. There needs to be a higher level of comfort with failure. Good tech development processes are messy, iterative and uncertain. The current agriculture R&D system rewards clear and conservative ROIs, and is not a natural fit with accelerator or incubator models. The “tall poppy syndrome” may be hampering AgTech in Australia. Rather than cutting down imperfect concepts or projects, the agricultural sector should harness the momentum generated by new thinking to create real value. Written by Victoria Taylor, GAICD ✓ Following Victoria Taylor, GAICD Executive Officer and Non Executive Director in the primary industries sector


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