The best innovation occurs within dense networks, where actors and enablers are receptive to the flow of knowledge. AgTech is a rapidly growing market that is no exception to the idea that social networks catalyse innovation.
Through joint research with LinkedIn, USSC has analysed how developed Australian AgTech networks are and how policy can help further this. They found that Australia's innovative efforts and AgTech networks are far behind the United States and New Zealand (which has a fifth of our population).
Using a complex equation involving linear algebra and matrix theory, the best-connected entities in each country was ranked to an 'eigenvector' score. FluroSat was found to be the Australian AgTech company with the most number of connections.
In Australia, the best-connected firm is FluroSat, an agricultural data analytics firm that develops software to help farmers use data, agricultural science, remote sensing and artificial intelligence to monitor all aspects of their practice.
Given drastic differences in density and the level of interconnectedness of Australian network compared to those in the US and New Zealand, the report also makes the following policy recommendations.
- More cohesive and coherent advocacy for Australian AgTech.
Australia and New Zealand can both expand efforts to collaborate across the Tasman as well as leverage their unique strengths in AgTech in concert. Already a long distance away from most other markets, the two countries are more likely to draw attention when considered together rather than distinct from each other.
- Stronger engagement of venture capital as a key component of building networks and growth
Beyond AgTech, Australian venture capital per capita across all sectors of the economy is a third of New Zealand’s and an eighteenth the size of the United States’.5 Foreign venture capital firms can help address this challenge. But they also supply more than money, providing global networks and expertise in how to scale. Ranging from financial incentives to government-sponsored trips, the Australian government can learn from the efforts of other nations like Israel and New Zealand in attracting and welcoming such firms.
- Greater support for AgTech from the Australian government
The Australian government has accomplished a lot on AgTech but it can do more. Austrade can follow New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s lead and consider subsidising the full costs of trips by qualified AgTech funders from overseas. Such funders could provide both the capital and know-how of global best practices.
- A wider understanding of the role of AgTech
AgTech is part of the knowledge economy and is, therefore, not limited by crop or land sizes — just like any other technology, the whole world is the market. The government should approach AgTech with that mentality and widen its understanding of AgTech, making particular note of its significant economic potential.