Science, Agriculture, Innovation & Value
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February 4, 2019

Value from Ag-Science & AgTech

 

Start-ups are an exciting topic in Agriculture. No one would dispute the level of interest from inside and outside traditional food, fibre and biotech supply chains. Yet a few things stand out: (1) Start-Ups used to be called small businesses with big goals – experience in digital has changed or expanded the jargon; (2) lots of Start-Ups are focused on capturing value from the current pie, and not growing the pie; and (3) many have solutions seeking problems.

AgTech interest and the associated language are good for agribusiness. Why? the movement is bringing new skills to an industry that’s broadly good at executing on the familiar. It’s bringing ideas and capabilities that those of us working in the leadership, communication and commercialisation of food, fibre and biotech science find refreshing. It’s also confronting and challenging for the status-quo as the pace of change increases significantly.

AgTech must talk with customers and end-users, and establish a credible business case to deliver value before exploring and selling solutions. We’ve been to a conference or two, spoken with a variety of interesting founders, and worked in agribusiness and agri-science across our careers. The key gaps we experience in these conversations:

  1. A clearly defined market problem: what matters, to whom, and how much?
  2. A compelling value proposition: will someone buy your product, and can you scale the business model?
  3. A vision beyond simply fitting into and competing within the existing value chain – find challenging problems that enable you to be profitable.

AgTech that delivers on a broader scalable vision for customers (i.e. Australian farmers) is great for our industry. It’s here that we need new skills in lean and business model design combined with a broad range of technical capabilities. We look forward to a continuation of agriculture’s evolution.

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