Agricultural entrepreneur pockets $20,000 at evokeAG Pitch Tent competition

21.02.19

Close to 1,200 international delegates packed Melbourne’s iconic Royal Exhibition Building on Wednesday, 20 February to cheer on the four Pitch Tent winners announced at the inaugural, sold-out evokeAG event.

Thirteen finalists from around the world threw their hats into the ring for the competition, vying for a total cash pool of $35,000 and in-kind prizes across three different streams. The participants pitched their agricultural challenges, solutions and business ideas over the two-day event to a panel of expert judges and an international audience.

Dr Mathew Jones from CertusBio is a step closer to realising his dream of saving billions of kilos of dairy waste after taking home the top cash prize of $20,000 in the Investment Ready stream. The Christchurch-based innovator was one of five finalists from Israel, New Zealand and Australia in the agtech sector. It was tough competition with a range of cutting-edge concepts pitched, including grasshopper farming, wine micro-oxygenation and autonomous crop sensing; however, Dr Jones says the calibre of entrants made the experience all the more worthwhile.

“I especially want to thank AgriFutures Australia for an amazing two days. It has been non-stop since we got off the plane. There has been a constant flow of interested people through Startup Alley. The other finalists have been such a great bunch – so supportive and encouraging. The exposure we got is exactly what we came for and has given us the opportunity to raise investment, scale and acquire new customers,” said Dr Jones.

Meanwhile Armidale entrepreneur Sam Duncan was ecstatic to win the prestigious Austrade Bridge Hub Special Prize, valued at $10,000. The award, the first of its kind in Australia was open to a finalist from either the Investment Ready or Seed Funding stream, and the winner received a much-coveted spot on the Austrade/Bridge Hub Agrifood Tech boot camp to Israel in May 2019, including return flights, accommodation and a facilitated program.

“FarmLab has been going for two years now and we have gained a little bit of traction. We had been planning to look at expanding overseas next year, but the opportunity to go to Israel and showcase FarmLab in May 2019 will bring those opportunities forward 12-months,” said Mr Duncan.

The Seed Funding stream recipient Scott Glover from AgriAce took home a $10,000 cheque to kick-start his startup, alongside a two-day internship at AgriWebb Sydney HQ valued at $4,000.

“It has been a great opportunity to pitch at evokeAG. The diversity of attendees across the ag industry was impressive. I am so pleased to accept this prize. It will make a big difference to our business at this stage and a great help for our first manufacturing run which is due to start imminently,” said Mr Glover.

Danny Le Feuvre from Australia Bee Services took home the prize for the KPMG Producer Problem stream after taking to the stage to expound on pinch points in the honey sector. He says the networking opportunities at evokeAG have been invaluable.

“It has been such an interesting journey. I have learned a lot. The opportunity to focus on industry issues and connect with industry people has been really exciting. I have also been really excited by the amount of interest in finding a solution to the American Foul Brood problem from the delegates at evokeAG,” said Mr Le Feuvre.

Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia said Pitch Tent was tailor-made for the agrifood innovation industry and a prime opportunity for innovators from across the start-up scale to present on stage in front of industry experts – with some fabulous prizes on offer. For the first time, Australian producers were offered a place at the Pitch Tent table, presenting their problems to an audience of startups and world class businesses who were able to provide intelligent, succinct solutions.

“We have had some incredibly dynamic entrants, from those looking to get their start-ups off the line, to those looking to scale their vision globally. It was tough to differentiate as all were standout finalists showcasing brilliant and innovative agtech solutions, each looking at ways to think outside the box when it comes to food and how we grow, package and distribute it,” said Mr Harvey.

The four Pitch Tent winners included:

Seed Funding | Scott Glover – AgriAce | Merriwa | NSW
Prize included AUD $10,000 + in-kind prizes

Producer Problem | Danny Le Feuvre | Australian Bee Services | Ardrossan | South Australia
Prize included AUD $5,000 + in-kind prizes

Investment Ready | Dr Matthew Jones | CertusBio | Wellington | New Zealand
Prize included AUD $20,000 plus in-kind prizes

Austrade / Bridge Hub special prize | Samuel Duncan | FarmLab | Armidale | NSW
Valued at AUD $10,000 – this prize included 1 x place at the Austrade/Bridge Hub Agrifood Tech boot camp to Israel in May 2019

In front of the packed audience John Harvey wrapped up the final session of the program thanking delegates and partners for their support. He confirmed that AgriFutures Australia will bring back evokeAG in 2020.

For full details of the evokeAG 2019 program including key national and international speakers please head to www.evokeag.com

For more information about the Pitch Tent competition, visit https://evokeag.com/pitchtent/

Media enquiries:
Georgie Robertson, Regional PR Co.
georgie@regionalpr.com.au | 0417 217 869