On Wednesday 11 August, CEAT and the Canberra Business Chamber (CBC) hosted the International Business Connect event at the CEAT Innovation hub at The Australian National University. The event focused on the Australian agri-tech sector and the opportunities it holds as an export industry. The hybrid event was very well attended by delegates from embassies, CSIRO, ANU, CBRIN and business owners from the Canberra region, with short presentations being embedded into an evening of networking over appetisers and drinks.
The evening commenced with a welcome address from CBC’s Graham Catt, followed by an introduction from CEAT Director, Prof Owen Atkin. Owen talked about the challenge of feeding a rising global population, how business as usual approaches to R&D will not be sufficient to meet future demand for food, and how Australian universities research could help develop new tools and ways of working to boost the productivity of the agri sector. He shared examples of how CEAT is using a multidesciplinary approach to facilitate a number of industry-partnered projects in this area. The talk illustrated the value that university research and expertise could bring to such projects and provided an excellent preface to the evening’s keynote speakers.
Matthew Pryor of Agthentic and Tenacious Ventures presented to the audience remotely from Sydney. He spoke about the agri-tech ecosystem in Australia, and its potential for growth over the coming years, highlighting the breadth of areas Australian agri-tech companies already operate in. He introduced the AusAgritech Association, its mission and current members, including CEAT. Matthew was followed by Andrew Coppin, founder of FarmBot, a water management system for farms. Andrew outlined the company’s journey from start-up to fully-fledged national business, including their participation in AusTrade business development programs.
Anna El-Tahchy, Chief Technical Officer of CEAT Innovation Hub member Nourish Ingredients spoke about the company’s R&D in the alternative fats space. Anna highlighted the need for sustainable sources of alternative fats to replace palm and coconut oils in plant-based products. She outlined how Nourish is using advanced scientific practices to create fats and oils that meet these needs in a lab environment.
Stephen Trowell of PPB Technology, another CEAT-based business presented next. His talk focussed on the Cybertongue technology PPB has been developing to test products like milk for contaminants. Stephen and PPB’s work helps producers ensure their product’s safety through a fast and accurate testing process. You can learn more about the Cybertongue technology via Stephen’s explanatory videos.
The final talk of the evening was given by Cheryl Stanilewicz from AusTrade, who provided advice on the programs AusTrade offer to start-ups looking to scale their business and explore international export options.
The event concluded with an informal catered networking session, during which many new connections were made. CEAT looks forward to hosting more collaborative in-person events like this when COVID conditions improve, and are planning virtual events in the meantime, so stay tuned!
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