No more unicorns; Why AusAgritech president is calling 2024 the ‘year of the cockroach’ - evokeAG.

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No more unicorns; Why AusAgritech president is calling 2024 the ‘year of the cockroach’

There’s nothing that survives the ravages of time quite like a cockroach. Unicorns? Not so much. Tim Neale, president, Australian Agritech Association, and Co-Founder and Managing Director, DataFarming, awarded Australia’s Best Agritech 2023, shares why we need to support more ‘cockroaches’ in agritech.

I’m calling 2024 the year of the cockroach. Australian agritech has had 10 years of hype and excitement, but it can’t last forever.

Things are now starting to mature to a point where, as an industry, we need to be really smart about where investments are going.

We’re doing a hell of a lot on a real shoestring budget – and that needs to change. If government really want to be a $20 billion dollar industry, we need support. We need to push government; and government needs to show up.

There are some good changes coming, but we’re still a long, long way from that $20 billion dollar target.

Out with the unicorns, in with the pests

There’s been a lot of chasing of unicorns* in this industry, but unicorns don’t exist in agriculture – that’s a farce.

Instead, we need to start finding cockroaches. These are the businesses that are going to survive the test of time, they’re going to be here forever.

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They are the ones that are really delivering grassroots value to farmers in the industry.

They’re the ones that really have impact – and they’ve sort of been left out of the hype and excitement.

Exposing capital will take a team effort

We haven’t done a very good job of exposing large amounts of capital to the agritech sector.

There are huge amounts of capital sitting in private capital right now and there’s some great opportunities there. We need to expose those opportunities to the ecosystem.

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But it will take a ‘Team Australia’ (and our friends over the ditch in New Zealand) approach to make it happen.

I talk to a lot of our members every day. And I get a feeling of the many market failures in this country. We need to work together to take on the world.

Talent, investment and collaboration key goals for Australian Agritech Association

The Australian Agritech Association is the peak body for Australian agritechs across the nation. There’s more than 500 agritechs right now in Australia.

Our key role is to promote the sector, both locally and intentionally. We also work very closely with New Zealand to collaborate from a whole region perspective as well.

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We’re passionate about connecting businesses with research, and industry, particularly around government. There’s a lot of advocacy we need to do to promote agritech as a legitimate business on its own. A key factor is finding talent, because good people can be hard to find and there’s limited resources in Australia. We are driven as an association to help Agritech’s get that talent and investment.

The committee is a tremendous group of hard-working volunteers. Importantly, this is your committee, and we are here to serve our members to get the most out of agritech in Australia.

And together, in 2024, we need to focus on collaborative agriculture, work together to achieve a common goal – and fund more cockroaches.

Tim Neale spoke at evokeAG. 2024, delivering ‘State of the agritech ecosystem: Uniting ‘Team Australia’. To learn more about The Australian Agritech Association and its 2024 Investor Showcase (to be held on 6 June 2024) visit

For more inspiration about how agrifood tech can help make our food supply chains more sustainable and profitable sign up for updates from evokeAG.

*Unicorn: A unicorn company is a privately held start-up business valued at more than $1 billion. In other words, the company has reached the valuation of $1 billion without being publicly listed on any stock market (Source: What is a unicorn company? // The Motley Fool Australia)

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