Aussie agtech SproutX sows seeds for success across Latin America

04 Apr 2017

Australian agribusiness startup and innovation hub, SproutX has joined forces with Latin American-based early stage venture fund, NXTP Labs to launch AgtechPassport, an exchange program for agtech startups.

Launched in Sydney by visiting Argentine Vice Minister for Agriculture, Ricardo (Ricky) Negri late last month, the AgtechPassport program is supported by Austrade, the Argentine Government and Qantas.

‘Argentina is one of the few countries in the world that has considerable capacity to increase domestic agricultural production, but to be successful we need to rely on technology to transform our industry in a sustainable way. This program provides access to new technologies and new global value chains,’ said Vice Minister Ricky Negri during the launch.

Shannon Powell, Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner for Andean Latin America said the AgtechPassport is the first program of its kind in Australia and is focused on helping Australian and Latin American agtech startups gain international exposure, cross-pollinate and commercialise their ideas.

‘Part of our day-to-day work is to identify and assist Australian companies with new innovative products, services and technologies to expand into global markets, especially with new routes to market shaping international trade,’ said Powell.

‘The digital economy is moving at hyper speed. The linking of these agtech ecosystems provides access for Australian agtech companies to the enormous markets of Argentina and Latin America and creates a pathway for increased exports of both technological know-how and goods and services,’ she added.

The AgtechPassport program will send an Australian team to Argentina, and a corresponding Latin American agtech team to Australia, for a one-week immersion in the host country’s startup ecosystem.

‘We want to get Australia’s agtech ideas out of the office and into the farms and areas where they can be commercialised,’ said SproutX General Manager, Sam Trethewey.

‘By partnering with NXTP Labs through Austrade, we can give our startups global exposure and insights. Australia and Latin America have strong agricultural industries and wide production bases, so close collaboration between countries will accelerate that goal,’ said Trethewey.

Powell said Argentina’s agricultural sector is quite sophisticated and is embracing advanced production technologies which are collecting invaluable data on a massive scale.

‘Many Argentinian farmers are “really early adopters” of technology. This demonstrates why Latin America is a great starting point for Australian agtech ventures planning to go global,’ noted Powell. 

SproutX and NXTP Labs will facilitate meetings between the startup teams and potential partners in the host country, to expand their networks and gain invaluable insights into their commercial viability in international markets.

The startups will also gain access to co-working spaces aligned with SproutX and NXTP Labs around Australia, Latin America, New Zealand, Israel and the United States.

Agriculture is a vital part of Argentina’s economy, accounting for 11.4 per cent of GDP. Likewise in Australia, agriculture is booming, with farm production forecast to increase by 8.3 per cent to a record $63.8 billion in 2016-17.

The Australian and Latin American startup teams are currently being selected, with the AgtechPassport program slated for the second half of 2017.

Applicants interested in the accelerator program in Australia should visit www.sproutx.com.au/accelerator or the Latin America program at www.agtech.nxtplabs.com.

Visit Austrade’s website to learn more about doing business opportunities in Argentina.