More than just beaches and rainforests: Why Queensland is the perfect host for evokeAG. 2025 - evokeAG.

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More than just beaches and rainforests: Why Queensland is the perfect host for evokeAG. 2025

AgriFutures evokeAG. 2025 is heading to Queensland! Dynamic, diverse, and decentralised, Queensland’s agricultural sector is shifting gears – accelerating its transition from a powerhouse commodity producer to a powerhouse agrifood tech innovator. Here, Salvo Vitelli from Host State Partner, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland; Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Julia Spicer OAM and Philippe Ceulen from Brisbane-based agrifood tech VC, Mandalay Venture Partners, discuss why there’s no better place than Queensland to host evokeAG. 2025. 

Queensland delegates at evokeAG 2024.

When you think of Queensland, chances are you picture the technicolour wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. Or the white sandy beaches of the Gold Coast. Or the lush green canopies of the Daintree Rainforest.

But Australia’s Sunshine State is also earning itself a global reputation as a powerhouse of agrifood tech innovation?

Queensland’s enviable diversity of geographies, climates, and soil types makes it one of the country’s most versatile food producers – supporting crops, horticulture, sugarcane, livestock, and aquaculture. And that’s just the canvas.   It’s Queensland’s people who are bringing agrifood innovation to life: open-minded producers; a state government which champions research and development (R&D) and adoption; and a collaborative ecosystem of innovation hubs, accelerators, and investors helping homegrown startups drive the next generation of agrifood tech solutions.


Any Australian reading this (particularly those on the East Coast, and especially during the football season…) will understand just how much Queenslanders love their home state.

So, when asked why Queensland is the right location for evokeAG. 2025, it’s not surprising that General Manager, Agribusiness Policy, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Queensland Salvo Vitelli’s response was, “Why not?!”

“We’ve got so many drawcards for the global agrifood tech community,” he explained.

RELATED: Dialling up diversity: Powerhouse panel at Beef2024 to explore how to make agtech more inclusive

“A strong foundation of research and innovation focused on supporting sustainable development across the whole agrifood system – from paddock to plate and beyond. And that’s creating real momentum around agrifood tech and deep tech in Queensland right now.”

Salvo Vitelli

Salvo Vitelli, General Manager, Agribusiness Policy, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Queensland.

Catalysing that momentum is QDAF’s Queensland Agtech Roadmap 2023-28, a five-year vision to establish Queensland as a leading global centre of agtech innovation. With a focus on adopting, adapting, and advancing technological innovations – the roadmap provides the strategic framework to grow both new agritech solutions, and the entire agrifood sector.

“We built it with industry, and for industry,” said Salvo.

“That means a sharp focus on strengthening the innovation ecosystem; activating the infrastructure that supports adoption and export of agtech; building agtech capability and digital literacy; connecting to domestic and global opportunities; and coordinating the policies and programs needed to make all this happen.”

A key action in the roadmap is to amplify Queensland’s successful Smart Farm Network, which connects farmers, researchers, and industry to accelerate the adoption of tech that boosts productivity and sustainability.

RELATED: Cracking the whip of innovation: Meet the Beef2024 evokeAG. Pitch In The Paddock finalists

Strategically located to represent the diversity of Queensland’s agricultural regions and enterprises, Smart Farms serve as demonstration sites where new technologies and practices are showcased, tested, and evaluated in real-world production settings.

Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Julia Spicer OAM explained, “The Smart Farm initiative provides world-leading facilities that act as a testbed for new ideas. It was founded on the need to address producer challenges, not just as a place to explore technology for technology’s sake.”

“As Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur, that’s always a genuine concern for me,” she added.

“If we aren’t solving a real problem, that’s not space we want to invest time and energy.

Global challenges. Queensland solutions.

Queensland may be wanting to accelerate its agrifood tech clout, but it hasn’t exactly been resting on its laurels. A quick glance at local startups and scaleups reads like a who’s who of Australian agritech success:

  • Goanna Ag – irrigation automation pioneer revolutionising water use efficiency across two-thirds of Australia’s cotton production, and a growing US footprint.
  • SwarmFarm Robotics – creator of autonomous machinery and agricultural robots driving on-farm efficiencies across Australia and the USA.
  • Ceres Tag – animal monitoring information platform simplifying livestock and wildlife management across 33 countries.

To find the next generation of innovations, the Queensland Government is offering more than just a strategic roadmap. It is putting its money where its mouth is, supercharging investment in Queensland companies to fast-track the commercialisation of promising agritech solutions. And they’ve called on Brisbane-based VC, Mandalay Venture Partners, to help.

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

Backing farm-to-fork innovation to deliver food security and sustainability, Mandalay has secured investment from the government-owned Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) to close the identified early-stage funding gap for agritech innovators.

Mandalay Venture Partners, Partner, Philippe Ceulen, said, “Queensland’s agrifood tech startup ecosystem has been growing steadily over the past decade. Coupled with the fact that over 90% of the state is already used for ag production, there’s tremendous opportunity to cement Queensland as an agrifood tech hub.”

“That QIC chose a Brisbane-based VC firm dedicated to that thematic is a clear indication of the government’s doubling down on realising its ambitions in this space.”

RELATED: Agritech innovators work together to deliver better solutions for farmers

Philippe said he’s noticed a pent-up demand amongst local agrifood tech companies for VC funding, and the venturing approach to accelerating commercial success.

Mandalay Venture Partners, Partner, Philippe Ceulen.

“Compared to even just two years ago, we’re seeing Queensland companies really structuring themselves for commercial growth and success. Coupled with a strong signal that government and investors are keen on this vertical, it’s clear that Queensland is really raising its ambitions around agritech.”

What can we expect from a Queensland evokeAG. event?

“We’re not a centralised state,” explained Salvo.

“From Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay in the north, to Rockhampton and Bundaberg in the centre, and Toowoomba in the south – Queensland has large regional cities with significant populations, and all feature agriculture as a lifeblood. So, part of our state’s innovation challenge is, ‘How do we embrace technology within our regional fabric?’

“The answer lies in understanding our people and how they operate,” continued Salvo.

“A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work across such diverse communities. Innovators really need to work with the regions to develop the technologies and practices that solve their problems.”

Julia agreed that place-based solutions are incredibly important.

“A vibrant, thriving Queensland needs people to stay in the regional communities they’re living. And to do that, we need to create economic empowerment in those communities.”

A thriving agrifood tech ecosystem which generates skilled employment opportunities, attracts new workers, boosts productivity, and stimulates economic diversity can do just that.

Bring on evokeAG. 2025 in Brisbane, Queensland.

Sign up to hear more from the thought leaders and change makers about the role of agrifood tech innovation in shaping a sustainable future and receive updates on evokeAG. 2025 in Brisbane, Queensland on 18-19 February. 


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