The UNE SMART Region Incubator (SRI) has launched "AgTech Gateway", a new program offering tailored, one-on-one support to AgTech start-ups and scale-ups in the New England North West region of NSW.
AgTech Gateway is funded by AusIndustry (a division of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science) to provide individualised support to new businesses with innovative ideas.
The program leverages real-world corporate financial advice on strategy 'tuned' to the agricultural and technology domains.
Hamish Webb and Dorianne Coventry of TerraProtein Equity Partners, a global corporate finance advisory firm with a base in Armidale, are delivering the SRI AgTech Gateway Program.
The team brings expertise in agriculture and agri-technology investment projects in venture capital, private equity, and debt capital markets across the globe.
"AgTech Gateway is a global readiness program designed to develop and grow businesses in the region by connecting start-up and scale-up founders with domestic and international customers and investors," Mr Webb said.
"What makes this program unique is the way the SRI is building a community of founders. It is becoming a hub of talent, and when combined with tangible business support, we are seeing businesses achieve great outcomes."
Sam Duncan, one of the SRI's AgTech founders, is building his business "FarmLab", a successful soil testing start-up, here in the region. He has just returned from a tour to Israel's AgTech leaders. He sees the benefit of working with the SRI's AgTech Gateway Program and its location.
"Strategically, Armidale makes sense for an AgTech start-up - be it the access to the UNE's leading agricultural research and data, or the proximity to the farming community," Mr Duncan said. We're in front of our target market in a heartbeat if we need to be.
"What's key is the knowledge and networks of specialists in the agricultural sector, who are living and breathing the industry and based in the area, compared to the capital cities."
The AgTech Gateway offers mentoring with industry experts, help with validation and growth strategy, financial modelling and structuring, human resource management, legal and intellectual property protection, public relations and brand management.
Founders also have the opportunity to travel to international landing pads, events, and accelerators focused on agtech innovation.
"Our hands-on approach drives meaningful outcomes," Dorianne Coventry said. "We are going beyond hosting events and introducing start-ups to mentors, which is, of course, part of what is on offer at the SRI. However, the individual business advice - particularly looking at a business from the eyes of an investor - is extremely valuable for our businesses."
Armidale has long been known as a hub for innovation in agriculture - home to the University of New England, world-renowned for its leading agricultural research and development. The UNE SMART Region Incubator supports more than 40 founders to grow and scale businesses that can add to the regional economy and create jobs.
Be it work space, expertise in the form of experience or research, data or information on funding opportunities, the UNE SMART Region Incubator is equipped to assist with the development of businesses in our region.
Applications are currently open for UNE SMART Region Incubator and AgTech Gateway. Apply online at www.smartri.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.