Australia: $7.49m agtech innovation fund launched; Oddup opens Melbourne office; Deputy expands to Singapore

Australian agtech innovation hub SproutX was launched in Melbourne with a $7.49 million startup fund to support early stage startups, Oddup has established a Melbourne office and Sydney startup venture Deputy is expanding to Asia with a new Singapore office.

Australia launches $7.49m agtech innovation fund

Australian agtech innovation hub SproutX was launched in Melbourne with a AU $10 million ($7.49 million) startup fund to support early-stage startups in the sector.

SproutX, a joint venture between the National Farmers Federation and financial services company Findex also hopes to stem the drain of local startups that are heading overseas to launch their business.

Apart from the backing of the farmers’ federation and Findex, the innovation hub has also received a AU$1 million($752,859) grant from the Victoria government. SproutX will also host a co-working space for up to 100 entrepreneurs and will run two accelerator programs.

According to SproutX general manager and co-founder Sam Trethewey in an interaction with StartupSmart, Australia’s agricultural sector is set to reach a capitalisation of AU$100 billion ($75.3 billion) by 2030.

With a current valuation of AU$60 billion ($45.18 billion), this will see significant opportunities over the coming years for startup ventures in the agricultural space.

“Australia’s agricultural sector is really one of the only pillars that can double in the next 15 to 20 years…We have to be extremely efficient, we don’t have any more land, we don’t have any more water so we have to add more with innovative ideas,” Tretheway said.

The launch of SproutX is also in line with one of the recommendations by Queensland Government and Commonwealth Bank in a recent report from StartupAUS, co-authored by KPMG. The report suggested developing a national agtech strategy and marketplace to give a boost to the agriculture sector.

From early next year SproutX will run a pre-accelerator that will take 100 participants through a six-week program incorporating lean startup principles like market validation and financial modelling. The pre-accelerator can be done remotely and seeks to spark new ideas in food, fibre and agribusiness.

Odd opens Melbourne office in Melbourne, releases reports on the startup ecosystem in Australia

Startup Rating System, Oddup has opened a new office in Melbourne and released reports on the startup ecosystem in Australia, calling it “down-right terrible.”

Hong Kong headquartered Oddup provides investors with an assessment of the potential success of a startup and with its proprietary Oddup Score, it helps investors with a Buy, Hold and Sell view of the startup it rates.

Oddup founder and CEO James Giancotti feels that despite having a strong base of tech talent, Melbourne’s investor pool is “down-right terrible”. “I knew it was bad but compared to other cities it was atrocious…unfortunately that’s to do with Melbourne’s love of property not tech talent,” Giancitti shared in an interaction with StartupSmart.

He suggested that Melbourne is losing on investment in comparison to Asia but is winning in terms of talent, describing Australian talent to be on par with that of the Silicon Valley ecosystem but cheaper by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

Recommending that a series of further tax incentives could help shift the focus from property to tech, he said that it is important that the ecosystem works to convince tech talent to make the jump from big corporates into startups.

In Melbourne, LIFX hardware tops Oddup’s list of best startups followed by Culture Amp, Vinomofo, 99Designs and CareMonkey while Sydney is led by BigCommerce, Invoice2Go, Airtasker, Expert360 and Hipages Group.

Meanwhile, Sydney boasts a larger pool of investors than its crosstown rival and growing slightly faster than Melbourne, but Melbourne has more impact going forward.

In Sydney, the research firm puts Blackbird Ventures, Black Sheep Capital and Elevation Capital on top.

Sydney startup Deputy opens new office in Singapore

In a bid to expand in the Asian market, Sydney workplace management software firm Deputy has opened a new office in Singapore, leveraging on the growth of the Internet economy in Southeast Asia.

It aims to expand its global footprint, with the company claiming to have over 25,000 customers across more than 70 countries. It recently opened two new offices in the US, with the goal of cracking one of the world’s biggest job markets.

Deputy’s growth and its break into Asia is being driven through partnership with small business cloud solution BizSmart, and is an opportunity for small businesses to access cloud technology and other technologies at a lower price to grow their business, she added. The company will initially focus on retailers and the next six to twelve months to expand their reach to a wider range of the small business sector, including hospitality.

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