Dr Natasha Ayers

$485,000 Federal grant awarded for AgriStart

$485,000 Federal grant awarded for AgriStart to help 50 regional start-ups take on the world. AgriStart was the only WA business awarded funding in the latest round of the Federal Government’s $23 million Incubator Support initiative.


AgriStart’s CONNECT: Regional Innovation Hubs will enhance regional innovation in three high-growth areas of Western Australia through training and the fostering of connections to start-up capital investment markets.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews congratulated the six successful applicants nationally.

“Incubators like these and the start-ups they support play a critical role across the economy in creating high-value jobs and increasing productivity by bringing new products and services to market,” Minister Andrews said.

The three regional areas supported by the AgriStart grant will be the Central Wheatbelt (Northam Hub), Great Southern (Albany Hub) and South-West (Busselton Hub).

AgriStart was founded and is led by agricultural researcher Dr Natasha Ayers and global entrepreneur Peter Rossdeutscher, is a successful consulting company that designed and delivered WA’s first Agtech Accelerator programs and has delivered innovation training in towns across the state. 

AgriStart’s Managing Director Dr Ayers is from a wheatbelt farm in Cunderdin, and will be based in the South-West Regional Hub.

Dr Ayers commented “This funding is a great opportunity to expand the geographical reach of our services, building capability and capital for small business growth across Western Australia. AgriStart CONNECT Regional Innovation Hubs will work with local innovators to connect entrepreneurs in rural areas to the Perth innovation networks and global markets.”

Mr Rossdeutscher added “Regional Australia is blessed with entrepreneurial endeavour so it is wonderful to see Federal support behind AgriStart’s regional growth initiative.  This initiative will create jobs and economic growth across the state by fostering startup success in the three hubs.”

The grant of $485,000 will provide face-to-face training, expert mentoring, online support and networking opportunities for up to 50 small businesses or start-ups in regional 50 over the next 2 years.

Read the official media release from the office of Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology HERE.

To sign up for updates on the programs offered in regional WA visit http://www.agristart.com.au/connect/

For more details contact info@agristart.com.au

Blog written by Sarah Gray

Strengthening Companies in the Agri Sector

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Strengthening regional innovation and export capability via the AgriStart HARVEST Residential Intensive held at Muresk Institute.

Value-added businesses in the week-long accelerator included Indigenous Aquaculture Ventures, Gloria Dieu Stud, Black Sheep Engineering, Livestock Pricing, WA Pure Honey, Flexible Farming Systems.

Speakers on export development, capital attraction, collaboration such as Wrays, Triangle Capital, MLA, CSBP, Austral, GemStar, DPIRD, Atomic Sky, Agworld, Wheatbelt Development Commission, UWA, Austral Fisheries, Landgate, The How Factory, Living Farm, Stratus Imaging, Bungulla Tech, Costa, Food Agility CRC.

Innovator of the Year Awards help Outstanding Innovators to Scale

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Innovator of the Year 2018 (IOTY) opened for Applications last week. Applications were formally by Christopher Tallentire MLA, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science.

I was fortunate to moderate a wonderful panel for the launch which included leaders from Medical Science, Mineral Resources, Energy, AgriTech, Research, Government and Technology. Joining me on the WA IOTY Launch Panel discussion were;

Professor Lyn Beazley, 2015 W.A. Australian of the Year and former WA Chief Scientist, who kicked off the discussion with examples of the significant economic and social impact that innovation can bring across the State. The IOTY program promotes job creation, economic diversification and future skills development in Western Australia. As part of the State's New Industries it strengthens in areas such as innovation in the resources sector, human health, automation, energy, agriculture, education and the environment.

The Joondalup Innovation Hub brings together Edith Cowan University as is a world leader in research and education, innovation expertise, the Australian Security Growth Network, AustCyber, and the Cyber Security CRC. Steve Marmion (Economic Development Advisor, City of Joondalup) discussed how the Hub is building global leadership and jobs in the sector. He also pointed out some of the many advantages of being an innovator focused on high growth sectors with significant underlying demand.

Woodside Energy proactively works with energy sector researchers, startups, SMEs and young innovators to provide demand for future skills. Neil Kavanagh, Chief Scientist & Technology Manager of Woodside Energy, pointed out the power of innovation to engage communities throughout Western Australian regions. He then expanded on the positive outcomes for communities that come from innovation and collaboration, providing excellent examples of outcomes in the Pilbara of innovators working across the value chain. 

Innovation in the Agricultural sector is important to improving the efficiency of food production and distribution. Dr Natasha Ayers, MD and CoFounder of agri-business experts AgriStart, has helped many companies grow through collaboration and innovation. She shared her experiences of where and how companies are leveraging new technologies focused on innovations in agriculture and regional development. Tash also touched on growing the food industry through skills development, engagement and innovation

Mitsubishi is in its tenth year as the Principal Sponsor of the Awards. David Lake, General Manager of Mitsubishi Australia Ltd and IOTY Judge, highlighted the importance of the IOTY Awards to promote and acknowledge the success of Western Australian innovators. In addition, the many outcomes that come from bringing innovative people together to contribute to success across all sectors.

The IOTY Awards have a history of activating and strengthening industry-university research collaborations. Steve Durkin (Safescape) added his company’s experience of leveraging Universities and how researchers helped strengthen their high growth business. He then expanded on the benefits the company gained from being part of the 2017 IOTY Awards and how winning the Emerging Category with Safescape Edge Protector has helped them further scale. 

The IOTY program is an initiative of the State Government's New Industries Fund, which aims to enable SMEs to develop greater opportunities to commercialise their innovations and expand to create new jobs. 

The initiative has supported and showcased innovative businesses since 2006. Some of the many high growth companies that have benefited include FastBrick Robotics, iCetana, SEQTA, TrackEm, Tap into Safety, ScanCam, Group and Fusion Books.

Canva CoFounder, Melanie Griffiths, has previously commented that being part of the W.A. Innovator of the Year Awards as CoFounder of Fusion Books had "opened more doors than she could have dreamed of. Getting great advice in the early stages of our business had a huge impact on our strategies and success. It’s a fantastic program that’s had a huge impact on us.”

In a survey of prior IOTY participants, the firms had reported that being involved in the awards later led to them employing more staff and that the awards led to increased investment from business angels and venture capitalists. The companies also reported they were now focusing on domestic plus international markets with more than 45% of those survey respondents now successfully exporting their products or services overseas.

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Apply for Innovator of the Year 2018 HERE


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How would you reshape existing energy networks to integrate new and emerging technologies for regional areas to maximise renewable power sources? 

The future of energy networks will be driven by customer choice, with renewables having a large part to play in the energy mix.  Increasingly energy networks will act as platforms for retail and residential customers to choose how they want their electricity supplied and delivered.

Operators will continue to foster and enable the connection of renewables – a generation source that continues to grow.  Micro grids will enhance power supply on the edge of the grid, while Stand-alone Power Systems will bring new opportunities for isolated customers.

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As part of its plan for the future, Western Power with the aid of the City of Albany and Atomic Sky rallied some of the brightest local minds to imagine a blueprint of a future smart city. Speakers included Western Power Senior Executives Fiona Bishop and Matt Cheney, Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington, Sunrise Energy Director Neil Canby and leading innovator Dr Natasha Ayers.

Outcomes from the workshop feed into Western Australia’s first Energy Self-Sufficiency Hackathon in Perth (22-23 March 2018). 

Info on the hackathon is at www.atomicsky.com.au/events

The Australia China Innovation Growth Fund backs the AgriStart Sector Initiatives

The Australia China Innovation Growth Fund was announced today as a Supporter of the AgriStart HARVEST sector growth initiatives in Western Australia. 

AgriStart Mentors Ally Bishop, Peter Rossdeutscher, Dr Natasha Ayers, Grant Sanderson, Greg Riebe, Stuart Kidd

AgriStart Mentors Ally Bishop, Peter Rossdeutscher, Dr Natasha Ayers, Grant Sanderson, Greg Riebe, Stuart Kidd

"China continues to experience incredible growth, and as the economy matures its demand for innovation and technologies is increasing. Australia has developed amazing technologies and its Agri/Food Tech sector is recognised, especially in China, as lean, clean and green.
The Australia China Innovation Growth Fund is pleased to be part of the AgriStart Harvest Accelerator program as it provides us an opportunity to feedback what we are seeing and hearing in the China market, as well develop long term relationships with Australian-based companies that may be opportunities to connect to China growth in the future.”  
Kent Matla, Founder & Managing Director

AgriStart programs draw on some of Australia’s leading experts in growth business mentoring such as Greg Riebe, Stuart Kidd, Nicole Keating, Julian Coyne, Tracie Clarke, Tom Calder, Peter Rossdeutscher, Dr Natasha Ayers and Grant Sanderson. 

The HARVEST AgriBusiness and AgriTech accelerator also leverages global experts from Germany, Israel, USA, China and Singapore such as Ally Bishop, Kent Matla and Stuart Crocker.

The initiative is led by AgriStart Executive Director, Natasha Ayers, and Atomic Sky Executive Director, Peter Rossdeutscher