Last week, the Orange-based Department of Primary Industries Global Ag Tech Ecosystem (GATE) and partner SparkLabs Cultiv8, presented their first showcase and Demo Day of amazing NSW and international agtech innovations to a crowd of over 450 investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders in Sydney. The atmosphere was electric – it was incredibly exciting and inspiring to see agtech innovators, especially those from here in regional NSW, showcasing their game-changing agtech inventions to the world.
GATE, with partners SparkLabs Cultiv8, has been established to nurture agtech from R&D (which, by the way, the DPI is a world leader in) through to commercialisation. The fact that Sparklabs, a leading Asian start-up accelerator, chose Orange as the location for its global agtech accelerator is significant – Central West NSW offers access to long-term data sets held by DPI and facilitates on farm validation of new technologies. It is not inconceivable that Central West NSW could become the global home of agricultural innovation.
If Central West NSW is to be a leader in agtech it means more agtech jobs here in the future. And that means nurturing and encouraging our regional youth to take up STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects that may lead them to these jobs of the future. Agtech is not just about drones – it includes biotech, robotics, data analysis, app and software development, smart irrigation and even renewable energy. Enter RDA Central West’s latest project, in collaboration with our RDA colleagues in the Hunter and Southern Inland, and funded by the NSW Department of Education. Called the STEM Industry Schools Project (SISP), this project will form partnerships between agtech businesses in our region and our schools to help students and teachers to develop skills that will be relevant to agtech jobs of the future. Through regional agtech mentors visiting our schools, students will be able to see what they could be in this exciting, growing industry of the future.