A rich harvest of agriculture, innovation and technology at day one of evokeAG.
The best and brightest in the agricultural field planted seeds of inspiration to a sold-out crowd in Melbourne today. Close to 1,200 delegates including farmers, entrepreneurs and innovators from 20 different countries filled the city’s Royal Exhibition Building for day one of evokeAG., the inaugural international agrifood technology event powered by AgriFutures Australia.
AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said evokeAG. is the only event of its kind in Australia, conceived by industry professionals who saw a need and filled it.
“Eighteen months earlier, with the help of like-minded experts in the agrifood tech sector, AgriFutures Australia made the decision to embark on a journey to bring to life a concept that places innovation at the heart of the agricultural sector.
“Our desire was to highlight the great things happening in this part of the world, to inspire by hearing from provocative world-leading thought leaders and connect people across the globe,” said Mr Harvey.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of AeroFarms, David Rosenberg launched the first of the speaker sessions with his keynote address ‘Thinking Up Solutions’. The entrepreneur and vertical farmer affirmed his commitment to the preservation and health of the world’s water resources and urged delegates to fundamentally change the way they think about the future of food and agriculture, as a matter of urgency.
New England farmer Peter Strelitz flew in from Armidale with a view to gaining insights into exporting his award-winning lamb into Asia. He said the farming community were grateful there was finally an event that connected both the producers and the agtech community. Besides the key networking opportunities, Mr Strelitz cited David Blackmore’s session on ‘developing a premium brand for an Asian audience’ as a stand-out.
Future agtech trends were highlighted by Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Spencer Maughan, who gave a nuanced perspective on the shifting landscape in the agrifood tech sector. Estimated as a $100 billion industry by 2030 — rivalling Australia’s mining and construction sectors – Mr Maughan said greater investment flow is critical for the industry’s success, but credited agtech’s first batch of unicorns with enormous potential.
The first of the Pitch Tent finalists took to the stage with three producers going head-to-head in front of a live audience, sharing their pain points and agricultural challenges. From issues including barriers to bee production to the lack of abattoirs with export accreditation, the three minute pitches were met with world-class propositions from a panel of judges including; Dr Christine Pitt, Founder and CEO of the Food Futures Company; Will Dalton from Agriculture Victoria and Ben van Delden from KPMG Australia.
Delegates then had the opportunity to enjoy the social aspects of the day, attending the Festival of Food with culinary offerings including a Grasshopper Bar and a line-up of Melbourne’s most iconic food trucks. The highly anticipated Glyph Whiskey Bar was also enjoyed by the international crowd who were the first in Australia to sample the lab-made drink that takes a mere 24-hours until it is bottled.
Creative elements added to the overall experience with a ‘Pallet City’, built with packing crates and a living indoor wheat installation. Delegates also lined up to take part in an immersive Australian Lamb Paddock to Plate Story virtual reality experience, taking them into the world of Australian sheep farming, transportation, processing, and end markets.
AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said the level of engagement from a global audience, as well as shared innovation insights are the real measure of the event’s success.
“evokeAG. has undoubtedly cemented its reputation as the leading agrifood tech event in Australasia. To sell out in our inaugural year was almost unthinkable but to see delegates coming from all over the world has been mind-blowing.
“It’s tremendously exciting to see the world’s brightest minds, innovators and industry leaders take to the stage sharing their stories; from automation traceability from field to plate, consumer-driven change through story-telling and provenance, robotics, and biological discovery platforms” said Mr Harvey.
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