Business planning

Budding entrepreneurs are being urged to create the next big thing in agtech

Broede Carmody /

Applications are now open for BlueChilli’s second Westpac Innovation Challenge.

 

Last year’s competition focused on disrupting the real estate sector, however, this year participants will tackle agriculture.

 

The winning solution will receive $40,000 in seed funding and a six-month placement in BlueChilli’s accelerator program.

 

Agriculture is a $48 billion industry, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and as the world’s population increases, farmers will be expected to produce more food with less land.

 

BlueChilli founder and chief executive, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, told StartupSmart the aim of the innovation challenge was to show how agriculture can benefit from digital technology.

 

“The whole point here is that digital disruption can disrupt any industry,” he says.

 

“We’re looking at supporting the agriculture industry, which is one of Australia’s largest. I love the juxtaposition of digital and online with the real world, and it doesn’t get more real than agriculture. Bringing digital to enhance agricultural distribution, sales, production, whatever – that’s kind of sexy.”

 

Eckersley-Maslin says the initiative will be looking at all kinds of startups, including established businesses and even ones at the ideas stage.

 

“How can you leverage what Westpac is bringing to the table?” he says.

 

“It’s not just ideas, it could be established businesses. So if you’ve got an idea of how to pivot your startup or start your own, we’re looking at everything.”

Westpac’s national agribusiness manager, Stephen Hannan, said in a statement it is also a great opportunity for farmers to bring their innovative ideas to life as you don’t have to be currently working on a startup to enter.

 

“We’re looking for innovative ideas and technologies that can be used to transform the lives of Australia’s farmers and the communities that support them,” he said.

 

“Our customers have told me their biggest focus is ensuring the long-term sustainability of their businesses and the primary industries they work in. We want to connect our agribusiness customers with new and innovative solutions that tackle some of their biggest concerns – new ways to improve productivity, lower costs, foster sustainable farming and manage market fluctuations.”

 

Applications for the innovation challenge close on Sunday, August 2.

 

Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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