‘Stay in the fight’; how 10 agrifood tech companies are scaling up at evokeAG. 2024 - evokeAG.

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‘Stay in the fight’; how 10 agrifood tech companies are scaling up at evokeAG. 2024

For the first time, AgriFutures evokeAG. has selected 10 scaleup businesses* to exhibit in the new Scaleup Station. We catch up with the founders of Whole., Agronomeye, and SwarmFarm Robotics, three of the companies selected, to get their thoughts on growth, evolution, and the one piece of advice they all share in common.

Stu Adam talking, co-founder of Agronomeye at evokeAG 2023 Stu Adam at evokeAG. 2023. Stu is the Co-Founder and CEO of Agronomeye.

The scaleup phase has been described as ‘building your race car while driving it’ – and Australian agritech businesses Agronomeye, SwarmFarm Robotics, and Whole. are firmly in the driver’s seat.

Who are they?

  • Agonomeye is giving farmers a razor-sharp 3D view of their farm using ultra-high-resolution imagery to create a groundbreaking farm-scale ‘digital twin.’
  • SwarmFarm Robotics is one of the world’s first companies to develop and deliver commercial agricultural robots, known as SwarmBots, to farmers.
  • Whole. has developed a chemical free processing solution, enabling cost-effective and large-scale production of plant-based products without waste – all while enhancing the nutritional value and bioavailability of the original ingredients.

And the people behind these innovative companies? Meet Stu Adam, Co-Founder and CEO, Agronomeye, Andrew and Jocie Bate Co-Founders, SwarmFarm Robotics, and Nick Stamatiou, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole – founders from three of the companies exhibiting in the inaugural Scaleup Station at evokeAG. 2024.

How did you first become involved with AgriFutures evokeAG.?

Stu: I left evokeAG. 2020 just as an attendee so impressed by what it meant for agrifood tech in Australia.

It was super encouraging to be able to see how the sector and AgriFutures Australia could organise together to be able to present as a whole industry.

Of course, soon after we were hammered by COVID-19, but we were able to build our business through that period when there weren’t a lot of events on. By the time evokeAG 2023 in Adelaide rolled around, we were in a position to have our name in the ring for Startup Alley. It was a fantastic experience. Having everyone under the same roof, all day long coming past our station – that was invaluable.

Andrew: SwarmFarm Robotics first attended evokeAG. in 2020 in the Startup Program. We were involved in the Investor Pitch that year, and again in 2022. We received investment both times which really helped us grow the company. At evokeAG. 2023 I took part in a panel session exploring the current state and future directions of autonomous agriculture.

Nick: We were first selected as one of six startups to participate in the AgriFutures evokeAG. 2022 Startup Network Program and again in Startup Alley in 2023. Our initial goal with the Startup Network was to improve our understanding of waste streams. We’ve got this amazing technology but had limited exposure to the growers and other primary sources of waste, so it’s been a great way for us to get out there in the field.

Andrew and Jocie Bates and Sarah Nolet - Investor Pitch Dinner 2022

Andrew and Jocie Bate, Co-Founders SwarmFarm, with Sarah Nolet, Tenacious Ventures, at the 2022 Investor Pitch Dinner at the Grounds of Alexandria.

RELATED: Who to watch in 2024: 40 startups set to turn heads at evokeAG.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Stu: There was a moment at evokeAG. 2023 where I stood back and saw every single person in our team talking to all the different players in the ecosystem at the one time. It would’ve taken us months and months of Zoom calls, meetings and follow ups to make that happen. To see that from a business that was kicking tyres in 2020, to having a real presence at evokeAG in 2023, was so encouraging to me as a founder. The team left full of energy and excitement, I could see the opportunities very clearly, and we could embrace them as a whole organisation.

Jocie: evokeAG. 2020 in Melbourne was a catalyst moment for us. We live in remote Queensland, and our entire team was working from our farm. We have a very physical product and people need to see it for themselves, but investors struggle to come to us. So, when we were able to have a robot on display at the Melbourne Convention Centre, all of a sudden, we had the right people in front of it to understand what it is that we do.

It was pivotal for us, and evokeAG. kind of became the event we never knew we needed until we had experienced it.

You’ve got events for cotton, grains, horticulture – every other industry – but as an agrifood tech community we suddenly had this buzz and platform to celebrate what we’re all building.

Nick: Our greatest achievement to date is the development of our WINX processing technology, which not only delivers a new category of enhanced nutrition opportunities but provides a completely new approach to food production without waste. Being at the forefront of processing technology globally gives us unique insights into the future of food, and our WINX technology is well positioned to deliver the nutritious and clean-label foods of the future – especially in the shadow of a looming global food crisis.

Image of Nick Stamatiou

Nick Stamatiou, Co-Founder and CEO of Whole.

What do you see as being the greatest challenge for scaleups that Scaleup Station is overcoming?

Stu: I believe Scaleup Station is not only a representation of the businesses themselves, but the whole agrifood tech sector going through a maturity right now. The timing is spot on because we’re going to see some unique, valuable use cases fall out of these businesses in this evolution – and hopefully next year there will be a big Agronomeye sign on the wall next to Loam Bio. Being supported on that journey is critical. Otherwise, you can just stay in that startup loop for a long period of time and not get out of it.

Andrew: The networking opportunities across the sector are just as important as the product itself, and sometimes it can be hard to access this. Scaleup Station and evokeAG. more broadly provide these connections. We are in the scale up stage now where we’ve got really a significant customer base across Australia and we’re starting to expand internationally.

It’s really important for us to be involved, because in our opinion, there’s nothing else like it in Australia.

Nick: It can be a challenge to shine light on technologies that we think have a promising, global future. For us, Australia has been fine as a starting point and testing ground, but we have always been globally minded. And what I love about evokeAG. is that it is pulling more and more an international audience. Getting in front of those international companies and international investors is key for us, and why I believe Scaleup Station will be so valuable.

RELATED: Agronomeye creates the first-ever 3D view of the farm

Nick Stamatiou and Cedric Cross

Nick Stamatiou and Cedric Cross, Whole. co-founders. Image: Fox and Wildling Photography.

What goals do you want to kick with the support of the inaugural Scaleup Station at evokeAG. 2024?

Stu: We want people to see our growth and to understand that Agronomeye is a business that’s on the rise and deserves its spot at Scaleup Station. We want to give people the confidence that there are businesses like Agronomeye out there taking the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and showing what can happen on the ground.

We’re confident Scaleup Station will be a great springboard to get the ears and eyes of the right people on our technology – and to share that growth with the team as we go from startup to scaleup.

Andrew: We are building more and more collaborations with other agtech companies that have integrated their technology onboard our robots, so building on those partnerships is important for us. Each time we’ve been involved with evokeAG it’s added value, so continuing on this path is our aim.

Nick: I want customer and investor prospects. If it’s coming from international parties, then all the better. We’re already starting to push heavily into Europe and the United States, and we want to focus heavily on international growth.

RELATED: Exceptional agrifood innovators and ideas powering change: The 2024 evokeAG. Program


Andrew Bate, SwarmFarm Robotics.

Your number one piece of advice for startups hoping to achieve success like yours?

Stu: Stay in the fight. I always talk to my team about being impatient with actions but patient with results. You’ve got to get up every day and continue to do the thing that is most important to the problem that you’re trying to solve. Always have a very close connection to customers the whole way through the process, especially in the early days. That obsession with product is going to be the thing that gives you customers. Those customers will give you scale, and that scale will give you the opportunity to grow at a rapid pace if you have the technology that’s deserving.

Andrew: There’s a place for everyone in the agrifood tech ecosystem no matter what stage you’re at, so stick at it. Even if you’ve just got a fleeting idea, attending events like evokeAG. will provide you a big picture view, no matter where you’re at. The people you can test your idea out with, the inspiration you gain from others, and the connections you make through industry bodies and farmers – it’s well worth it.

Nick: Elon Musk said that running a startup is like “eating glass and staring into the abyss”.

It can be an incredibly tough thing to do, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re prepared to run through walls for something you believe in then you’re already halfway there.

Stu Adam at evokeAG 2023

Stu Adam showcasing Agronomeye at evokeAG. 2023.

About Scaleup Station

  • Scaleup Station enables scaleup businesses who have previously exhibited in Startup Alley (at the 2019, 2020 or 2023 event) to demonstrate their advancements, connect with potential partners, and further accelerate their growth journey.
  • The evokeAG. Scaleup Station at evokeAG. 2024 is tailored to champion AgriFoodTech companies that have transitioned from the startup phase to successful scaleups.
  • At evokeAG. 2024, these companies will showcase their advancements and innovations, aiming to forge connections with potential partners. The Scaleup Station serves as a testament to their progress, offering an exclusive platform to accelerate their growth journey and elevate their profiles as key contributors in the agrifood tech landscape.

Get to know these three scale ups and seven more at evokeAG. 2024;

To find out more about the AgriFutures evokeAG. Startups and scaleups visit: evokeag.com/ startup-scaleups/

For more information about evokeAG. 2024, and to purchase tickets, visit: evokeag.com/2024. If you’re a startup interested in attending, please contact [email protected] for a discount code. AgriFutures Australia is encouraging delegates to secure their tickets, flights, and accommodation early to avoid disappointment.

* The 10 scaleups selected in Scaleup Station have previously exhibited in Startup Alley at previous evokeAG. events.

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