Supporting Australian primary producers to be more than just technology consumers

29.04.20

AgriFutures Australia is partnering with Farmers2Founders to turn Australian primary producers into much more than just consumers of technology. As a result, new ventures and opportunities have emerged, businesses have diversified, new products have been developed and technology capabilities have been enhanced.

Jennifer Medway, Senior Manager Business Development, AgriFutures Australia explained that the partnership with Farmers2Founders began after a real need was identified at the producer level to bridge the agtech adoption and commercialisation gap.

“We often see primary producers simply as consumers of technology rather than drawing on their unique skills and abilities to see a problem and get on and solve it. Low technology adoption rates often result from available technologies missing the mark in addressing real producer problems and pain points.

“AgriFutures Australia is partnering with Farmers2Founders to give primary producers the necessary support and guidance to step outside their everyday businesses to build their entrepreneurial skills, commercialise their technology ideas and bring new product offerings to market.

“A starting point for the program was around digital education, with Farmers2Founders delivering a series of workshops around the country with a strong focus on building digital literacy for producers,” said Ms Medway.

AgriFutures Australia has also been working with Farmers2Founders on developing entrepreneurship for primary producers. This has included sponsoring individual businesses through the program to build skills and knowledge to accelerate their technology ideas. Two agribusinesses who’ve benefited are QCamel and Hive Haven.

For QCamel, Australia’s premium supplier of Certified Organic camel milk products including fresh milk, yoghurt, cheese and powdered milk, the Farmers2Founders Bootcamp Program was the culmination of years of being highly innovative.

As Director Lauren Brisbane explained, QCamel had been doing research and development on a new skincare product line for the global market for a couple of years and the business needed help getting to the next step, specifically it needed expertise in international markets.

“Farmers2Founders was the culmination of everything we’ve done. They identified our gaps and turned us into an international company, without the program it would have taken us so much longer.

“There are a myriad of investment avenues and discussing those with Farmers2Founders was really beneficial – particularly if you want to keep control of your business and not sell (assets like) the family farm.

“Working with Farmers2Founders is a partnership. We have discussions with people who are ‘invested’ in our business and they can help to guide us. We’re all growing together.

“It gave us access to expertise that is otherwise really hard to find, especially for regional agribusiness. We’ve built a community with Farmers2Founders and the other businesses in the program so now we have new connections as well as access to invaluable expertise,” said Ms Brisbane.

For Hive Haven’s Founder and Managing Director Ann Ross, the Farmers2Founders Ideas Program is an opportunity to tap into a team of experts they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Hive Haven is building a commercial future for the Australian stingless native bee. The business has already designed an award winning, industry specific hive assembly which is capable of producing a range of native bee products; native honey, cerumen and pollination. The next step for the business is to develop innovative new products that use raw native honey and cerumen.

“It’s timely for us to be involved in the Ideas Program. We welcome the chance to work on a new product for our business that has the potential to be an Australian-based initiative that could help grow the industry.

“Through Farmers2Founders we are evaluating two raw native bee products – Australian stingless native bee honey and Australian stingless native bee cerumen – and how a combination of both that can be used,” said Ms Ross.

While it’s only early days for Hive Haven, having joined the Ideas Program this year, Ann has high hopes that the outcomes for the business will be significant.

“Being part of the Ideas Program has been really useful, it fits like a jigsaw puzzle with where the business is up to and it’s our opportunity to validate how best to proceed with a new product.

“Working with Farmers2Founders means we’re getting help with a decision about product development and we’re hoping the subsequent exposure will also assist with future investment opportunities.

“We’ve participated in two virtual workshops with our cohort so far and have also had one-on-one sessions with our mentor which have been valuable. We’re super grateful to AgriFutures Australia for sponsoring our placement,” said Ms Ross.

For AgriFutures Australia, working with Farmers2Founders is a part of the mission to deliver value to producers and supporting new industries.

“We know the agriculture sector needs new ideas. We need to continue to keep people informed about the technology available and how to make it work effectively for their business.

“We will continue to work with producers to make sure they’re front and centre in new product developments. We’ll do this by supporting innovation, digital education and helping agribusinesses to innovate and grow,” said Ms Medway.

Farmers2Founders (F2F) is an innovation program that supports Australian primary producers by equipping them with the latest tools and technologies to develop their entrepreneurial capacity, start new business ventures, understand and engage with new value chains, and solve industry problems.

QCamel was sponsored by AgriFutures Australia to be part of the Farmers2Founders Bootcamp Program in 2019. The Bootcamp Program is for businesses looking for resources and support to grow quickly and sustainably.

Hive Haven is being sponsored by AgriFutures Australia to take part in the Farmer2Founders Ideas Program in 2020. The Ideas Program is about equipping producers with the tools to test and establish new industry changing ventures.