Program: Agricultural Innovation Hub

Program Goal

The Agricultural Innovation Hub supports the uptake of innovation by producers while motivating and encouraging collaboration in the agricultural innovation system.

This program is funded by the Australian Government’s Agricultural Innovation Hubs Program and anchored as part of the established Tropical North Queensland Drought Resilience, Adoption, and Innovation Hub within James Cook University’s (JCU) innovation centre located in Cairns.

Under the Agricultural Innovation Hub, JCU will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors, and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in Northern Australia.

SUPPORTING INNOVATION, RESEARCH & KNOWLEDGE THAT EMPOWERS OUR COMMUNITIES TO DRIVE REAL SOLUTIONS

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The TNQ Agricultural Innovation Program supports the uptake of innovation by producers while motivating and encouraging collaboration in the agricultural innovation system.

Our program is anchored as part of the established Tropical North Queensland Drought Resilience, Adoption, and Innovation Hub within James Cook Universities (JCU) innovation centre located in Cairns.

Under the TNQ Agricultural Innovation Program, JCU will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors, and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in Northern Australia.

 

Latest Updates

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES

The Agricultural Innovation Program is delivered through 6 key workstream activities. The program will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in TNQ.

DELIVERING A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS CASE
Developing a sustainable business model for the TNQ Drought Hub and Ag Innovation Program
PROBLEM STATEMENT CAPTURE
Identifying producer-led problems that can be solved through TNQ's innovation pipeline
END USER BETA TESTING ON FARMS
Providing an opportunity for potential solutions to be tested on TNQ farms by technology companies, producers and innovators
DEVELOPMENT OF STARTUPS/ SCALEUPS/ SPINOUTS
Deploying pre-accelerator and accelerator programs to support the development of startups/ scaleups and spinouts
DIGITAL AG TECH ENGAGEMENT
Designing a TNQ agricultural innovation eco-system and supporting frameworks to allow producers to take full advantage of the digital economy
COMMERCIALISATION LAB
Delivering a fast and effective framework to advance promising innovations through rapid commercial development pathways
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PROBLEM STATEMENT CAPTURE

Start with the Problem in Mind

Part of our strategy when launching this program was to start with the problem in mind. Since late last year, we have been working with partner organisation Farmers 2 Founders to collect relevant problems directly from producers that if solved could help them build a more sustainable future for their land and business.

We Need Your Help

Our hope is that we can use these problems to source existing solutions or find smart people who are willing to develop new solutions that will benefit producers throughout the region.

We’re now calling on all producers to submit your problems to us either via your local Drought Resilience Coordinator, our Ag Innovation Hub Project Manager – tnqhub@jcu.edu.au or directly below into what we call the ‘Muster Platform’.

AG TECH ENGAGEMENT: 'AgValuate'

We are currently designing a program to provide a chance for producers to assess their business and develop solutions that add impact and value. We’re hoping to help producers cultivate resilience to pressing issues such as climate variability, succession planning, supply chain resilience and building human capacity for the changing workforce through this program.

Lead by our Digital Ag Innovation Consultant Kara Worth, ‘AgValuate’ has been designed in consultation with producers and industry representatives, focusing on giving tangible pathways to move from business improvement towards innovation on farm.

We are excited about the fact it is farm-focused, giving producers an opportunity to think about their own farm and its unique needs and apply the workshop content directly to areas that matter most for their organisation.

These workshops are available to producers within Queensland. Producers from any industry are invited attend, including sugarcane, horticulture, livestock, and mixed farming operations.

If you are interested in an ‘AgValuate’ workshop or presentation, please get in touch with Kara on 0419 704 699 or kara.worth@jcu.edu.au

END USER BETA TESTING ON FARMS

The TNQ Agricultural Innovation Program supports the uptake of innovation by producers while motivating and encouraging collaboration in the agricultural innovation system.

Under the TNQ Agricultural Innovation Program, the hub will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors, and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in Northern Australia.

With an eye to simplifying property management through the integration of a range of tried and tested software solutions into one dashboard, we’re hoping to provide producers with a live snapshot of what is happening on their property whilst minimizing the burden of having to learn lots of different programs.

We’re working with a range of properties throughout the TNQ region to test not only the value of integrating the product and its use case, but also how easy and effective it is for a producer to use. We’ll keep you updated on how these trials go over the coming months….

TNQ AG INNOVATION ACCELERATOR PROGRAMS: Hatch and Harvest

We are looking for big ideas to solve challenges within the TNQ agricultural industries.

Hatch: The key focus of this pre-accelerator program is to validate an idea with real customers, form a 6-month roadmap  to launch your product into the market and give you the confidence to take the leap and start a new business venture. The Hatch program is about changing the way you think. It gives you a timeless set of skills and helps you to properly contextualise and frame key decisions you make for your startup.

Did You Know

A common misconception about Pre-Accelerator program is that your idea needs to be concrete when you apply. It doesn’t. You don’t need to have customers or be in revenue, and we don’t ask for business plans or strategies in the application process. What we really want is to help you test if your idea is addressing a genuine problem, and if it could have scaling potential.

Harvest: this accelerator program is for agrifood tech or innovative food and beverage businesses who are looking for resources and support to scale your business and accelerate your growth. Participants will learn through the delivery of of high quality programming combined with tailored support to meet the specific needs of your business.

We’re excited to have two recipients who have recently been accepted into the TNQ Drought Hub Harvest Accelerator Program sponsorship.

These local innovative founders are embarking on a 5-month program delivered by Farmer2Founders which is designed to equip high potential agtech businesses with capabilities to scale into national and international markets, deliver transformational growth to our agricultural industry and maximise the social and economic contribution in our region through jobs and revenue. We look forward to supporting and following their journey and wish them all the best success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMERCIALISATION THROUGH COLLABORATION

Capitalising on the vast range of domain expertise, skills, and experience inherent within JCU and across the TNQ Drought Hub’s partner network, the Agricultural Innovation Program team are discovering how new agribusiness and agtech innovation and ideas can reach new heights.


A framework to support a fast-tracked commercialisation process is currently being developed that will swiftly articulate critical industry challenges, identify innovative solutions, and support the development of those solutions to ensure they are both technologically feasible and commercially viable with strong, demonstrated market demand.
These Discovery Workshops form part of a 3-month commercialisation sprint and are an integral part of connecting expertise and knowledge to support whether or not the proposed projects demonstrate commercialisation potential.


So far the framework has seen the TNQ Drought Hub and James Cook University invest in projects through the Sandpit2Seed Fund to improve their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) with Proof of Concept and Prototyping development. Collaboration with the industry and tailoring solutions for the end users and customers are the essential purposes of these funds.


Accelerating Clean Meat Fish Production

The global meat market could be worth as much as $2.7 Trillion by 2040, according to CB Insights’ Industry Analyst Consensus, and there are clear limits to sustainably producing enough meat. Moreover, the planet’s populous will increase from 8 to 9.2 billion by 2040, and the current growth in global agricultural productivity is inadequate to meet the nutritional requirements of the current and expected world population.

This project aims to build a new technology to mass-produce sustainable Clean Meat and Seafood at a low cost. This approach will enable the industry to: (i) feed the world’s population, (ii) prevent further exploitation of the world’s oceans and overfishing of endangered wild-caught species, (iii) avoid the high environmental costs associated with aquaculture, and (iv) provide a sustainable and safe alternative for those species that cannot be successfully reared and grown in an aquaculture setting.


Automatic Fish Phenotyping Tool for Sustainable Aquaculture and Smart Fisheries

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector, valued at US$263 B globally, and its demands increase by an average of 6% annually. Despite this scale, current fish and aquaculture products are primarily treated as a bulk commodity, losing invaluable information on the commodity, which can help significantly improve decision-making and planning for faster growth by understanding aquaculture products’ phenotypic traits individually or across species.

This project aims to advance an initial implementation of a new automatic fish phenotyping tool that will enhance aquaculture farming and post-harvest processing practices by accelerating data collection and automatically analysing and leveraging it using the latest advances in computer vision and machine learning technologies. A Proof of Concept is ready to get tailored, integrated, and/or retrofitted into an available fish and aquaculture farm for grading, phenotypic collection, and/or processing lines due to its modular stand-alone nature.

The tool concept has been proven with Barramundi as a test species. However, it can be used to collect images of and trained to predict features of other fish and/or aquaculture species. AutoFish can also be trained to detect and predict any customer-tailored features and traits of the fish/product and/or be used to assess the health of the fish/product if the health issues are visually recognisable by an RGB camera and the background phenotypic data present for training. Hence this technology would be scalable and can be implemented for other aquaculture products worldwide.

 

MEET THE TEAM

Tony Matchett

program lead

Tony Matchett has been involved in northern Australia crop research for the past 15 years. His mission is to convert these research outcomes and new innovations in to commercial opportunities for growers and their communities in the north.

Tony completed a science degree in agriculture, and has over 25 years’ experience across farming, agronomy, research, breeding, marketing and agribusiness development. Tony has a strong agronomic background, and a good understanding of growing conditions across northern Australia and crop suitability to these environments. He is passionate about, and supports agribusiness growth across northern Australia to enhance sustainable food production for domestic and international markets.

Mohammad Farjoo

commercialisation lead

Mohammad has extensive international experience in innovation management, commercialisation, and entrepreneurship and is a mentor for startups and creates a pipeline of innovations and enhances the entrepreneurship ecosystem, supporting the JCU community.

Kara Worth

Digital Ag innovation consultant

Kara is a community builder and storyteller at heart, who lives and breathes bringing these skills to the table to help organisations find their people. Kara is the daughter of an organic banana farmer, passionate about food, digital agriculture and empowering sustainable food and farming systems with 8+ years of experience in marketing, communications and stakeholder relations.

 

 

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