Australian grain growers are unofficially world leaders when it comes to innovative solutions.
Posed with a problem on the farm, they soon find a way to fix it through novel approaches.
Many of those innovative ideas could benefit other growers and may in fact be commercial success stories in-waiting.
This potential is recognised by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) which has announced a series of workshops across the nation to encourage growers to explore the possibility of taking their home-grown innovations to the next level.
The ‘Growers as Innovators’ workshops, to be delivered by Farmers2Founders (F2F), will provide growers with the advice and impetus they need to progress their ideas.
GRDC Chairman John Woods says Australian grain growers are experts in overcoming on-farm challenges.
“The GRDC knows a wealth of practical solutions are devised by our growers, so we want to encourage them to think about doing more with their ideas which could have widespread application and benefit throughout the industry,” he said.
“The Growers as Innovators half-day workshops are at the ideas end of the innovation pipeline, with F2F being engaged to support growers to develop and advance their ideas – whether it be at a farm level, regional level, or at a whole-of-industry level, either in collaboration, or as an individual entrepreneur.”
Growers attending the workshops will be able to share ideas for new technologies and products, hear what is and isn’t working in agricultural technology, and obtain support to get started with their ideas or to take them further.
Farmers2Founders was established by innovation specialists Sarah Nolet (AgThentic) and Dr. Christine Pitt (Food Futures Company).
The co-founders saw a gap between the agriculture and tech communities, and knew a unique project was needed to solve the problem.
“F2F was built based on the belief that, if we are to solve the critical challenges facing our global food system, we need more producers involved in ag and food tech. Startups present a transformational opportunity for the food and fibre industry, but right now too many solutions are being developed and pushed into the industry rather than pulled in because they solve real problems. F2F flips this model on its head, placing producers at the centre of innovation.”
The regional workshops will be held in six grain growing locations with the first 3 planned for Mingenew in WA, Moree in NSW and Horsham in Vic.
GRDC has a comprehensive innovation strategy.
To complement the ‘Growers as Innovators’ workshops and assist in delivering solutions to market, the GRDC has also co-invested in a new $50 million ‘agri-tech’ venture capital fund, GrainInnovate, which backs start-ups creating innovative technologies to boost profitability in Australia’s grains industry and solve growers’ most difficult problems.
The GRDC and global investment management company Artesian are each contributing $25 million to the fund to flush out ideas and fast-track the delivery of a range of technological innovations to growers from the best start-ups around the world.
Investments will be provided for the development of innovations in areas as diverse as genetics, sensors, crop protection, storage, automation, renewables, and water and nutrient use efficiency.
Mr Woods said GrainInnovate builds on the GRDC’s strong and diverse investment portfolio, giving growers access to leading-edge ideas and technologies, “whether developed in a shed in Parkes, discovered in a German-based international life science company or an agri-tech company in Silicon Valley”.
“From the Growers as Innovators workshops to GrainInnovate, the GRDC is supporting growers from one end of the innovation pipeline right through to the other,” Mr Woods said.