I was delighted to receive an invitation from the Hon David Basham, the South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, to keynote at the upcoming AdvanceAg Conference in Adelaide. You can learn more about the conference here.

Back in October 2020, the Government of South Australia released the ‘South Australia AgTech Strategic Plan’. It’s 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. The AdvanceAg conference is an important part of this Plan.

It’s interesting to see how the landscape in Australia (Federal v States) is taking shape. From an agritech rather than agricultural production perspective, the states seem to be accelerating activity and planning in this space. Much of the Federal focus appears to be on the performance of the Research & Development Corporations (RDCs). GrowAG (I sat on its Establishment Steering Committee) is one manifestation of that focus. As many of us know however, innovation and technology advancement is not only to be found in the publicly-funded research domain. Building a cohort of agritech businesses capable of scaling and creating impact is very often a private sector endeavour. Those businesses require the ongoing support of the wider agritech ecosystem – agribusinesses, government, investors, incubators, accelerators, as well as research. It’s building that broader ‘coalition of the willing’ that I recognised in South Australia’s AgTech Strategic Plan.

For anyone familiar with my work in New Zealand over the past 6 years, building collaborative agritech frameworks and partnerships has been a key focus. Today, that model has taken on a global lens. The Government of South Australia recognises the advances made in New Zealand and my quest is to identify opportunities for increased collaboration between the two respective sectors.

Reaching out to the wider Australian Agritech Ecosystem

Given that this will be my first trip across the Tasman since the bubble re-opened, I plan to spend 3 weeks in Australia visiting folk in Sydney, Canberra, Wagga Wagga (home to both AgriFutures Australia and the Bridge Hub) as well as Adelaide. I’m grateful for the introductions being made to different agritech players in these centres by both AgriFutures and the team at the Australian Agritech Association. The trans-Tasman partnership is working!

Back to Adelaide. Over 300 delegates are expected to attend the AdvanceAg conference. I plan to spend a few additional days in the state, meeting different stakeholders in a rapidly emerging and engaged agritech hub. From a personal perspective, I look forward to meeting the Minister and his team at the Ministry for Primary Industries and Regional Development.

It will help create yet another significant channel for increased trans-Tasman engagement and one that will hopefully benefit agritech communities on both sides of the ditch. It’s time to put that passport to good use!