growAG. A global channel for Australia’s agrifoodtech ecosystem

growAG. A global channel for Australia’s agrifoodtech ecosystem

I was delighted to join Harriet Mellish, GM, Global Innovation Networks, AgriFutures Australia and Rebecca Robinson, President & CEO, Kansas State University Innovation Partners, on stage at yesterday’s growAG session at evokeAG 2024.

First, a declaration of interest. I was honoured to be invited to join the inaugural growAG steering committee back in 2020. The then Australian Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, had requested AgriFutures Australia to build a platform that would provide transparency into RDC research spend (given that 50% came from Federal taxpayers).

The growAG platform was born.

Today, growAG highlights over 3,000 research projects being undertaken by Australian RDC’s and other research organizations. For international researchers, industry players and investors, it provides a unique insight into the Australia’s agrifoodtech ecosystem. 50% of its users are based overseas and at any one time there will be at least 100+ projects with commercial opportunities – research, commercial & investment.

Over the past two years, international venture investment into Australia has grown exponentially. Pre-growAG (I call that BG), accessing information about current agrifood research in Australia was a challenge. Inward international investment was low. growAG has changed that. Today, Australia’s agrifoodtech ecosystem continues to benefit from the visibility that growAG brings to the market.

New Zealand – The Missed Opportunity

Over the 4 years since I first joined the growAG inaugural steering committee, I have advocated for pro-active New Zealand Inc. engagement with it. Despite visits to NZ by growAG representatives, these calls have fallen on deaf ears. There is still no formal arrangement currently in place between NZ Inc. and growAG.

I suspect that this is reflected in inbound venture capital metrics over the past 2-3 years. Whilst NZ & Australia were both on a ‘par’ back in 2020, offshore venture funding into Australia’s agrifoodtech start-up and scale-up companies has far exceeded that of NZ peers since then. I suspect that this will be reconfirmed when we hear from Michael Dean of AgFunder later today at evokeAG 2024. I believe that growAG has been part of this story.

The good news is that NZ researchers and companies can independently list their research and ‘opportunities on the platform. I would encourage more to do so. There is no cost and it helps leverage the trans-Tasman lens that I continue to advocate for.

Yesterday’s session with Harriet & Rebecca was a blast. Afterwards, Rebecca and I took part in a growAG podcast which will be released at some time in the near future. I’ll share that link on this website when it’s available.

For New Zealand researchers and companies looking to leverage the power of growAG, you should visit today. The growAG team will be pleased to meet you!


Supporting Western Growers in Australia

Supporting Western Growers in Australia

Following an awesome week in New Zealand (more to appear here shortly), Jacqui and I are delighted to have been able to join Dennis Donohue & Jeana Cadby from Western Growers in Western Australia.

We have traveled across the Tasman to learn more about the Australian agrifoodtech ecosystem and its growing impact on farmers and growers. The highlight of our time here in Perth is attending the 2024 evokeAG conference. This year, it’s a sold-out event with an expected 2,000 delegates attending. It’s the largest southern hemisphere agrifoodtech conference with representatives attending from over 20 countries.

As readers of the Wharf42 blog may know, I’ve sat on the evokeAG steering committee since its inception back in 2018. I’ve seen it grow exponentially and expect this year’s conference to be the largest and most impactful to-date. On Tuesday, I’ll be on the stage talking about AgriFuture’s growAG  platform and how it has helped transform Australia’s agrifoodtech sector’s global reach. I was fortunate to be invited to join its inaugural steering committee. It’s been an amazing experience to have been so close to the growth of such a rapidly emerging global force. There are lessons to be learnt by others. By increasing the transparency and visibility of Australia’s publicly-funded research sector, research, investment and commercialization opportunities that did not exist before have emerged. That will be a key message that I want to share on Tuesday.

Last night, Dennis, Jeana, Jacqui and I attended the ‘Let’s Connect’ Networking event, jointly hosted by Callaghan Innovation & AgriFutures Australia. It was great to spend time with AgriFutures Managing Director, John Harvey (pictured). I’ve worked with John for a number of years to help promote the trans-Tasman agrifoodtech story. In a global context, Dennis & Jeana’s presence in both New Zealand and Australia has helped accelerate that partnership and the incredibly important message it delivers.

The next few days promise to be epic. We have a number of scheduled 1-2-1 meetings as well as leveraging new opportunities presented by the main conference itself. I’ll share details of some of these meeting outcomes. They promise to not only showcase what’s possible through international collaboration, but specifically what opportunities exist for closer research and development engagement between California and the ecosystem ‘down-under’.

It promises to be a fascinating few day ahead.


Adelaide announced as host city for evokeAG. 2023

Adelaide announced as host city for evokeAG. 2023

Following on from the success of two sell-out events in 2019 and 2020, evokeAG. organiser AgriFutures Australia, today announced Adelaide as the host city for the internationally acclaimed agrifood tech event slated for 21-22 February 2023 in South Australia.

From the AgriFutures Media Release:

Off the back of the cancellation, announced yesterday, of evokeAG. 2021 and 2022 events (Perth and Sydney), AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey, believes next year’s event will play an even more crucial role in powering globally relevant conversations within the agrifood tech ecosystem.

“The disruptive impact of the pandemic has highlighted serious shortfalls in our food security systems. There is an increasing sense of urgency around how we engage in global conversations, mitigate risk to our supply chain and challenge the conventions of what we grow, how we grow it and what we eat. Balance this with an extremely productive Australian agricultural landscape including big yields, and all-time high prices, the evokeAG. 2023 event brings together a collision of opportunities and challenges with the best local and global minds to solve some of these issues,” said Mr Harvey.

The View from Tauranga:

Whilst I was deeply disappointed by the cancellation of the planned 2022 evokeAG conferences in Perth & Sydney, I am delighted by today’s announcement around the appointment of Adelaide as host city in 2023.

I have a particular interest. Back in October, I was the keynote speaker at South Australia’s AdvanceAG conference. I had hoped to attend in person, but unfortunately because of closed borders could only present virtually. It was a strange experience speaking to 500 delegates for ½ hour from my home office in Tauranga. Next February, I’ll have no such excuse and both Jacqui and I are already looking forward to meeting and engaging with so many of the folk connected with post-AdvanceAG.

For some additional context: Back in October 2020, the Government of South Australia released the ‘South Australia AgTech Strategic Plan’. It was a significant piece of work and a number of its recommendations resonated. I recognised that it had brought together different stakeholders including producers, government, research, industry and startups. It was as close as I have seen to the original intent of New Zealand’s own Agritech Industry Transformation Plan. It has seen the State’s agritech ecosystem emerge as one of the most connected across all of Australia. The selection of Adelaide as next year’s evokeAG host city is well deserved.

For more details about the 2023 programme and speakers, check out the evokeAG conference website at

Building a trans-Tasman agritech collaborative framework with purpose

Building a trans-Tasman agritech collaborative framework with purpose

It was great to be able to share the news today that AgriFutures Australia and Wharf42 were announcing a new collaboration to enable New Zealand & Australian innovators, researchers and farmers to come together to lead on climate action. A key driver behind this announcement was the joint ambition to build a trans-Tasman agritech collaborative framework that has purpose. Think ‘moving the dial’, rather than creating just another talk-fest.

As farmers and growers around the world face the increasingly existential impact of a rapidly changing climate, building a strong collaborative framework among key stakeholder groups across the Oceania region has become ever more critical. Next year’s 2035 Oceania Summit is designed to do that and today’s announcement both supercharges that opportunity and heralds a significant new era for trans-Tasman collaboration in the global AgriFoodTech space.

This is today’s announcement from AgriFutures evokeAG

2 SEPTEMBER 2021: ‘evokeAG. is proud to announce a new collaboration with the inaugural 2035 Oceania Summit taking place in Auckland on 26-27 April 2022.

With a focus on climate and sustainability, the 2035 Oceania Summit will offer a wonderful opportunity for Australian and New Zealand innovators, researchers and farmers to come together to lead climate action.

In 2022, we want to connect, collaborate and drive action across the Tasman to support farmers in continuing to be leaders in natural resource management. Through evokeAG. Perth (Feb, 2022), evokeAG. Sydney (March, 2022), and the 2035 Oceania Summit, Auckland (April, 2022), we hope to bring these important conversations and innovation to the forefront’.

BREAKING: Read today’s headline story on the evokeAG portal; Trans-Tasman collaboration driving global innovation and action in 2022. Wise words from John Harvey, Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia.

At the September 2019 Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum meeting in Auckland, I had the opportunity to connect with partners in both Australia & New Zealand to establish the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council. Over the past two years, we have continued to develop that relationship. As part of the continuing drive to increase opportunities for joint collaboration, earlier this year, Agritech New Zealand signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Agritech Association.

The main purpose behind this work has been to position the region as a truly significant global AgriFoodTech hub. Next year’s 2035 Oceania Summit adds a whole new dimension to that purpose. By showcasing the region’s agrifood and climate-related tech research and innovation capability, we intend to support farmers and growers worldwide reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, as well as build more resilient growing systems to address the ongoing impact of a rapidly changing climate.

With a very significant delegation of Australian innovators, researchers, producers, investors and policy-makers now expected in Auckland next April, Wharf42 looks forward to working with the team at AgriFuture’s evokeAG as we build a significant programme of activity in advance of next year’s major trans-Tasman events.

growAG, the Australian agrifood innovation research portal, is now live

growAG, the Australian agrifood innovation research portal, is now live

AgriFutures Australia growAG portal has gone live today at

As a member of the growAG steering committee, it’s great to see the hard work that has been undertaken by the team at AgriFutures over the past 18 months, finally come to fruition. The portal provides global agribusinesses, researchers, innovators and investors with a detailed view of the extensive agricultural research being undertaken by the 15 Australian RDCs (Rural Research & Development Corporations).

As a platform that provides external parties with unrivaled access to real-time commercial and collaborative research opportunity, I believe that growAG has hit the mark. For me, the experience has provided an invaluable opportunity to gain both an understanding and an insight into the Australian agrifood research and innovation landscape.

For everyone involved in this project, the next few months will demonstrate just how effective this model is for providing commercialisation input into the research process. If you want to learn more about growAG and the opportunity it is creating, check out the short video below:



Check out the new look evokeAG portal. Looking for NZ agritech content!

Check out the new look evokeAG portal. Looking for NZ agritech content!

  AgriFutures Australia has just launched its new look evokeAG portal at

I’m excited! As a member of the evokeAG steering committee, it’s great to see how the ‘product’ is developing.

We should of course, have been packing our bags for the 2021 evokeAG conference in Perth next month. COVID kicked that into touch, postponing the conference until February 2022 and so it was important that the impact generated by the first two conferences in Melbourne was maintained. 2 years between events is a long time.

The decision was taken last year to build the evokeAG portal to provide round the year coverage of agritech events taking place in Australia, New Zealand and our Pacific Island neighbours. The conferences will still take place, but the two days will now be supported by 365/24 real-time updates.

The portal is packed with interesting content. You can read about it, watch it or just listen to it. It has a BIG audience and the plan is to socialise its existence to an even larger global market.

One of AgriFutures Australia’s key dynamics has always been to support the trans-Tasman opportunity. It was reflected in the two conferences in Melbourne and has been reinforced in the new portal.

So this is the ASK. If you are a New Zealand agritech business or research organisation and have a great story to tell, please share it. I spoke to the team at AgriFutures this morning and they are keen to learn more about key developments and interesting stories on this side of the Tasman.

To find out more, visit

If you want to spread your word so that people in the wider community can learn about your story, the evokeAG portal is now open for business. If you want any advice about the next steps, please just drop me a note via our Contact page.

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