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How GrainInnovate and growᴬᴳ⋅ are building connections down under to solve global food challenges

The grain industry is a vital part of Australia’s economy, supplying 25% of the country’s agricultural gross value of production.

Nigel Hart, managing director of Australia’s Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), says that given its important role in the food system — both at home and abroad — it’s critical that Australia’s grain industry fosters innovation through all available partners, including agtech startups. Tools that strengthen soils and yields, optimize input use, boost farm productivity and deliver, high-value, cleaner ingredients will ultimately help growers and food companies stay profitable in the face of climate change and shifting consumer preferences.

GRDC had this in mind when it formed the GrainInnovate Fund in partnership with global alternative investment platform Artesian Ventures.

Launched in 2019 at AgriFutures evokeAG. event, the fund invests in unique startups developing agtech tools that address the above issues and other challenges for grain growers.

Since that launch event, AgriFutures has continued to provide support to GrainInnovate through its growAG. platform, acting as a hub for discovering connections and opportunities, and providing strategic introductions. GRDC currently lists more than 300 research projects on the growAG. site as well as 10-plus opportunities.

Building global grain connections

GrainInnovate has invested in more than 20 startups to date, not just in Australia but globally, and across the entire agtech spectrum.

Its portfolio includes, among many others, ag robotics company SwarmFarm and agronomy platform Farmlab, both in Australia; Argentina-based grain traceability startup ZoomAgri; and Australia-born now US-based Regrow, which provides agtech tools for regenerative agriculture practices.

“The agtech ecosystem in Australia has really grown and matured over the past few years,” says Fernando Felquer, head of business development at GRDC.

“We’re seeing more startups emerge with a whole range of tech solutions that could benefit primary grain growers, from storage and transport solutions, automation, communications to on-farm technologies that enable more sustainable farming. Many of these areas are now represented in our GrainInnovate portfolio.”

The partnership with AgriFutures has helped to build many of these connections.

The growAG. concierge program has facilitated introductions between Felquer himself and other investors. For example, Canadian venture studio Carrot Ventures met with Felquer and is now touring Canada to connect with other potential investors.

Les Finemore, Yarta CEO, presenting at AgriFutures AgXcelerate

Australia-based commodities-trading startup Yarta used the growAG. platform to learn more about the GrainInnovate opportunity.

“We first came across the growAG. platform in early 2022,” explains Yarta CEO Les Finemore.

He says it became immediately apparent that the platform could generate investment leads, and because it “typically had users who had a very strong interest and appreciation of agriculture.

“It played a pivotal role in connecting us with the GrainInnovate fund,” he adds.

Continue reading this story on AgFunder News here.

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