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 www.growag.com today. The growAG team will be pleased to meet you!