Speaking during the AgriFood Tech stream at Southstart Emergence on May 6, a panel comprised of John Harvey (Agri Futures Australia), Martin Cole (The University of Adelaide) and Sarah Nolet (Tenacious Ventures) discussed the need for reform in order to turn the $1.3 billion of annual research spending into commercial outcomes.
Professor Cole, who is Head of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide, said a radical transformation of the global food system is needed if we are to feed 10 billion people with dwindling resources and in a way that protects the health of the planet and us.
“To be competitive, here in Australia, we need to be part of this transformation,” Cole said.
“We will need new business approaches created around opportunities that accelerate innovations across the food value chain and we will need to educate the next generation of leaders to drive this.
“Events like Southstart are brilliant because they facilitate the conversation and help us imagine just what we could achieve if we work together across the ecosystem.”
Panel facilitator Michael Macolino, Associate Director AgTech at BDO, said the discussion was an important and thought-provoking one, particularly for anyone involved in the industry:
“We have a fantastic international reputation in food and agriculture, but in order to be truly globally competitive in AgriFood Tech there must be an increased focus on industry collaboration at all levels, including government, agricultural producers and food manufacturers and the management of environmental resources,” he said.
Industry initiatives such as growAG, a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) and Australia’s 15 Research & Development Corporations (RDC’s), are already making inroads to improving the connections and access between researchers, producers, corporations and investors.
Touted as “the gateway to Australia’s agrifood innovation system”, growAG showcases world-leading agricultural research, unique technologies and commercialisation opportunities in one online location – allowing interested parties from Australia and around the world to collaborate in delivering innovation back to the farm and the food supply chain.
The CSIRO is also undertaking work to start new ventures, including the launch of plant-based meat startup V2 Foods, which emerged via a partnership between the CSIRO and industry.
Such partnerships are an important step forward in increasing collaboration in the industry and directly linking research and development capabilities with local growers and commercial production facilities.
This cross-sector collaboration brings down the barriers to accessing innovation and is vital to the advancement of the AgTech industry, including AgriFood Technologies, and is happily becoming more of a priority.
More than 800 people attended _Southstart Emergence at the National Wine Centre on the day to hear big ideas and innovative solutions from more than 70 local, national and international trailblazers from a range of industries.
“The _SOUTHSTART experience is unique – particularly in South Australia,” Macolino said.
“Attracting such a diverse group of remarkable leaders to have frank, thought-provoking and generous conversations is no mean feat and it has been a privilege to facilitate this conversation.
“The energy at this event is just amazing and the outcomes for South Australia will be invaluable.”
Macolino spoke to ABC’s SA Country Hour during _SouthStart. Listen to the recording here.
Read more about alternative protein foods in this interview with Michael Fox, co-founder of Fable Food.