Kansas State teams with Australia agtech accelerator on farm innovation

By Staff
3 Min Read

Dive Brief:

  • Australian startup incubator, SparkLabs Cultiv8, on Tuesday announced a partnership with Kansas State University’s research and development arm to drive growth in agriculture and food technologies.
  • The joint effort with K-State Innovation Partners allows participating upstarts bilateral access to U.S. and Australian markets, investors, researchers, talent and other resources to help scale or bring their products to fruition.
  • A handful of participants are set to benefit from the first delegation, such as Arugga, which replaces bees with robots in greenhouses, and FutureFeed, which reduces methane emissions burped from cows.

Dive Insight:

After a down year for agtech investments, SparkLabs Cultiv8 and Kansas State University are hopeful they can help reverse the trend by offering resources and support to innovative startups in the space.

SparkLabs Cultiv8 co-founder Malcolm Nutt said in a news release that the U.S. and Australia are ideal counterparts, with companies able to develop their products across dual seasons and climate conditions.

“Feeding the global population in a changing climate is a challenge that can only be met with massive international cooperation,” Nutt said. “Collaborations like this will be critical to achieving food security and slashing emissions from agriculture.”

In the US, companies engaged with SparkLabs Cultiv8 have access to Kansas State University for research and development, plus new opportunities for corporate partners and public funding opportunities. In Australia, SparkLabs Cultiv8 will facilitate access for US companies to relevant universities and researchers and Australia’s network of agricultural programs, the Rural Research and Development Corporations.

Despite corporate and government efforts to improve sustainability and climate impacts, investments in agritech have dropped off. The sector saw a 49% decline in funds raised globally last year and challenging conditions will persist for some through 2024, according to a report from AgFunder, a venture capital firm.

“The US offers immense opportunities for Australian companies – it’s the biggest agri-food tech market in the world with $5 billion invested in agri-food tech just last year – but Australia is a fantastic place for US companies to come and do business as well, with a big export market, access to Asia, and a farming community known for innovation and early adoption,” Nutt said.

The partnership coincides with the World Agri-tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco, where hundreds of business leaders, farmers, investors and other stakeholders are in attendance. Some of the companies participating in the partnership are focused on robotics, reducing antibiotics use in livestock production and emissions reduction.

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