AUSTRALIAN grain growers are set to reap benefits of a $50 million venture capital fund to draw the best and brightest tech start-ups from across the globe to focus on innovative solutions for grain growers’ hardest to solve problems.
The GrainInnovate fund has been set up through a partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and global alternative investment management firm, Artesian.
GRDC chairman John Woods said the driving reason for GrainInnovate was to flush out innovation and technology from throughout Australia and around the world to deliver transformational impact on grain grower profitability.
“Australian grain growers are some of the most innovative in the world. We have seen an increase in the gross value of grain production from an average of $6 billion to approximately $15 billion in the past 15 years – most of which has come from grain growers adopting new and novel technologies,” he said.
“To stay competitive we need to seek new innovations, new technologies and bright ideas from Australia and around the world and get it into grower hands as quickly as possible so we maintain our competitive advantage.
“Whether you’re a grower, breeder, research scientist, agronomist or ag tech developer – if you’ve got an innovation that can improve production or address a grains industry constraint– we want to hear from you so we can capitalise on those opportunities and maximise the productiveness of our systems.”
Mr Woods said GrainInnovate was bringing disruption to the grains RD&E environment.
“While GRDC has a strong and diverse investment portfolio, this initiative will give grain growers access to cutting edge ideas and technologies whether developed in a shed in the back paddock in Parkes, or discovery in a Germany based international life science company, or an agri-tech company in the Silicon valley,” he said.
“This initiative is unique in that its focussed entirely on the Australian grains industry. It also represents one of the largest institutional capital pools in Australia. It will act as a beacon to attract world-class agri technologies to boost innovation and modernisation across the grains industry.”
Artesian managing partner Jeremy Colless said the company – a full stack venture capital firm with offices across the Asia-Pacific region – was excited about investing in world-leading agr-tech start-ups delivering innovations most applicable to grain growers.
“Artesian Venture Partners has raised $50 million to establish the fund, including a $25 million cornerstone investment from GRDC, the largest single investor in grains research in the country, and $25 million from Artesian,” Mr Colless said.
GrainInnovate will target scalable, high growth potential start-ups from all facets of the grains production and processing chain.
The initiative is setting its sights for entrepreneurs and start-ups working across a spectrum of areas including genetic tools and technologies, crop and environmental sensing, grain storage logistics, renewable technologies, managing frost and heat, task automation and crop protection technologies.
These start-ups can be founded anywhere, but as part of the fund’s investment due diligence, start-ups will need to demonstrate their commitment to delivering solutions to Australian grain grower issues.
“This new fund will play an integral role in propelling a vibrant and sustainable grains ecosystem in Australia,” he said.
He said the co-investment funding model employed by Artesian Venture Partners would encourage collaboration across a wide range of participants that will ultimately deliver enduring profitability to Australian grains industry.
Launching the fund, Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said the multi-million dollar fund would help put cutting-edge technology into Australia’s grains industry.
“This will help turn grain-growing into a high-tech science,” Minister Littleproud said.
“GrainInnovate will look for start-ups to boost our production of the worlds-best grains.
“The fund will invest in leading edge developments in genetics, cultivation and storage systems.
“Some of this technology will detect changes in growing conditions and give farmers the information needed to keep their grain healthy.
“GrainInnovate will also invest in renewables, crop protection technologies, and water and nutrient use efficiency.”