Deep Planet’s journey into the Australian wine tech market
Scaling a startup globally can be a far easier process with a little help in both hemispheres according to Matthew Moate, the Australian-born head of sales for UK-based agritech company Deep Planet.
With an agritech platform built on satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Deep Planet is solving some of the wine industry’s biggest problems.
Collaborations with government agencies in the United Kingdom and Australia, and a UK-supported trip to evokeAG. 2020 have each played an important role in the global expansion of the startup’s VineSignal technology and its growing adoption.
Founded by a group of scientists and engineers from Oxford University, Deep Planet is helping viticulturalists and winemakers around the world to improve the quality and quantity of their yield, overcome the impacts of climate change and reduce their vineyard management costs.
The VineSignal platform, a decision management tool uses AI, satellite imagery and IoT sensor data to remotely sense vineyards at scale, helping growers manage vine health, predict grape maturity and optimal harvesting dates, forecast yield, optimise irrigation scheduling and identify potential problems.
Global agritech collaboration to solve industry challenges
It has been a rapid and rewarding journey for the business, with international collaborations the key to scaling their vision from startup to success story – bolstered by the founders’ collective experience in scaling deep tech companies.
This journey included support from the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), that worked with UK’s National Innovation Agency, Innovate UK through its Global Business Innovation Program (GBIP) to bring Deep Planet to Australia for the evokeAG. 2020 event in Melbourne.
Being part of the evokeAG. experience enabled Deep Planet to engage with local growers and research organisations directly, while further introductions through Austrade helped to build their extensive network of connections throughout Australia.
Their visit also led to Deep Planet becoming the only UK participant in Australia’s FOMENT 2021 wine tech accelerator program, supported by the Government of South Australia, Wine Australia and eNVIsion – designed to target the growth and adoption of technology in Australia’s wine and tourism industries.
The FOMENT accelerator helped facilitate the startup’s entry into the Australian market, where it now has more than 100 growers and winemakers on its platform, including world-renowned premium wine and spirits business Pernod Ricard Winemakers.
Scaling up to drive agritech adoption
As a result of their involvement in GBIP and a trip to Australia for evokeAG. 2020, Deep Planet Co-Founder and COO Sushma Shankar said they were able to quickly evolve their startup technology from a pilot program through to a commercial-scale product, before expanding their operations in 2021 to one of Australia’s most globally recognised wine growing regions, the Barossa.
The VineSignal platform commercially launched in the Australian market in the 2020 growing season. “We saw an exceptional level of uptake of our technology. This gave us the confidence to make this investment into South Australia,” said Sushma.
“The Government of South Australia clearly demonstrated the skills and knowledge across the space, machine learning and wine sectors that we can leverage, making it a natural fit for us.”
Deep Planet’s Head of Sales, Matthew Moate said the process of setting up their Australian headquarters was aided by a collaborative relationship with the Government of South Australia.
“We’ve always been very innovative in Australia and always been willing to adopt technology,” said Matthew.
“Through the South Australian Department of Trade and Investment, we were able to secure an Austrade Landing Pad program, which really helps businesses that want to start a business in Australia to come to South Australia by providing funding, whether it be for leasing commercial premises and supporting with professional and commercial services you need to engage to get the business established.”
“The UK Government has also been a pivotal partner in supporting the expansion of Deep Planet to Australia and has provided opportunities to network and connect with influential stakeholders resulting in accelerated growth.”
Exporting agritech and addressing global needs
“We’re now in around six or seven geographies and each of them has its unique challenges,” explained Matthew.
“For Australia we have very vast, large-scale vineyards that require a lot of monitoring whereas in France in Bordeaux or Burgundy, you’ve got a lot smaller growers that are focusing on a lot more quality, whereas here in Australia we’re often trying to reduce inputs and cost of production.
“The other opportunity when you’re working in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is that you’ve got two seasons to iterate, to keep improving your product, and to be able to improve and design the features and functions that the customers are going to get value from.”
Since entering the Australian market, Deep Planet has collaborated with several of the top local wine producers to create value-added features for VineSignal, such as harvest date detection, disease outbreak prediction, and sugar level detection.
This work is now having a global impact, with producers in key international wine regions in Europe and America using these innovative developments to enhance their outcomes in the vineyard.
Learn more about Deep Planet’s precision viticulture technology and its global impact here.
This article includes information first published in Austrade’s Deep Planet Case Study. Austrade has a network of investment specialists to help businesses, like Deep Planet, enter the Australian market. Contact an Investment Specialist here or explore Global Talent visas options here.
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