The New England region is set to become a hub for the growing ag-tech sector.
Armidale has been selected to host one of three pilot projects, or ‘clusters’, which aim to deliver rural innovation and create jobs for the future.
“When similarly minded businesses work in close proximity with one another – it’s not only more efficient, but leads to greater productivity and improved working life compared to entrepreneurs going it alone,” Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said.
The Cluster is being compared to industrial centres like Silicon Valley, where resources and skills are shared to benefit everyone.
“Armidale’s industrial cluster will bring together the best and brightest agtech pioneers, making our patch the centre of development for technology in agriculture,” Mr Marshall said.
The new ‘Cluster Champion’, Chris Celovic, will work with small and medium-sized businesses, as well as turning his attention to the global marketplace.
“Personally I’ve always espoused the virtues of Armidale as the Agtech capital of Australia, and having assisted several companies to break into global markets I’m a true believer in the ability of those Agtech companies to develop Agtech products that will be at the forefront of global competition,” Mr Celovic said.
“I’d like the New England Agtech Cluster to be recognised by the industry, and by other countries, as the place to come and look at the best of Australian agricultural technology.”
An initiative of the NSW Government-backed Jobs for NSW, the Cluster will work across research, ideas development, commercialisation and education, helping to grow networks and idea sharing, investment and global relationships.
“This development will not only bring jobs, skills and industry to Armidale, but help keep Australia on the forefront of innovative agricultural technology. Our ultimate goal is to help create the next billion dollar agtech company in our backyard,” Mr Marshall said.
Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro said the Armidale Agtech Cluster would bring together businesses, industry, educational institutions and government to boost business and grow jobs in the area.
“High-performing clusters grow jobs at more than double the state average, create higher paying jobs, are twice as likely to export and generate more innovation, and have small businesses that are 21 per cent more likely to survive,” he said.
“NSW clusters accounting for more than 26 per cent of recent jobs growth.”