From robots on farms to cultivated meat: can AgTech solve the climate crisis?


A special AgTech stream at _southstart [conference] is set to explore how AI, big data, biotech, robotics and other emerging technologies play a role in transforming agriculture – known as “the world’s least digitised industry” – and have the potential to drive efficiency and combat climate change.

Demand for agricultural products is expected to double by 2050 to feed a global population of 9.5 billion. With many looking to agricultural technology (‘AgTech’) for a solution, Australia’s future as a leader in the space will be considered when industry experts from AgriFutures Australia, Goterra, SwarmFarm Robotics and more converge in Adelaide for _southstart [conference].

On Wednesday 20 November at the Adelaide Convention Centre, a series of AgTech-focused discussions powered by BDO Australia and The University of Adelaide’s ThincLab Waite will explore how AI, big data, biotech, robotics and other emerging technologies have the potential to drive efficiency and combat climate change.

Although agriculture is among the least digitised industries in the world, Australia is poised to become a leader in the space: the National Farmers’ Federation has stated its aim to lift production by $40 billion to $100 billion by 2030, and alternative business models and production processes supported by AgTech will be crucial in achieving this. 

AgTech experts coming to _southstart include Olympia Yarger, Founder and CEO of Goterra and a leader in insect farming; George Peppou, Founder and CEO of cultivated meat company VOW; Serena Lee, Co-founder and CEO at indoor vertical farm start-up Farmwall, and Andrew Bate, Founder and Managing Director of SwarmFarm Robotics – one of the world’s only companies with robots working on commercial farms.

Solving these challenges requires a whole of ecosystem approach, bringing together technologists, investors and food producers.

Michael Macolino, AgTech Lead at BDO Australia

The research and development that underpins the emerging sector will be discussed by Kay Hull AM, Chair at AgriFutures Australia, and Guy Hudson, Co-founder and CEO at SoilCQuest. Joining them will be experts on AgTech investment, including Director at Artesian Venture Partners, Robert Williams; and Andrew Cosh, Principal and CEO at Kilara Capital. And joining us from Singapore is Nesh Sooriyan, Entrepreneur In Residence at Accelerating Asia.

The conference’s AgTech stream will be facilitated by AgThentic’s Founder and CEO, Sarah Nolet, and Michael Macolino, BDO Australia’s AgTech Lead.

“I’m really looking forward to speaking at southstart, sharing stories of leading producers and entrepreneurs revolutionizing agriculture,” said Sarah Nolet. “The agrifood tech space is exploding in Australia, with innovators working on everything from driving on-farm efficiencies through analytics and robotics, to business model innovations that unlock regenerative practices to combat climate change.”

“BDO is proud to be partnering with _southstart to facilitate this discussion on the evolution of our Agriculture,” Michael Macolino added. “AgTech is a key enabler in solving many of the challenges across the Agricultural supply chain. However, solving these challenges requires a whole of ecosystem approach, bringing together technologists, investors and food producers.”

View the full _southstart program.

Get _southstart tickets.

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