Driving industry awareness of new technologies, matching innovators with investors and continuing to drive growth across all agricultural sectors is the core concept behind the 400m Ag and Food Innovation Forum taking place at the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba on Wednesday, November 21.
Event coordinator and Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel said the forum, which has been held annually in Toowoomba since 2016, was devised to help accelerate the investment and growth in agriculture and food technologies within Australia.
“This is required to maximise the 400 million (400M) hectares of arable land in Australia, to avail it to feed the 400 million middle income earners in Asia by 2030,” Mr McConnel said.
He said the the keynote session for the 2018 forum will be delivered by Ian Mason, the head of Virgin Start-Up in London, UK.
“Ian founded and heads up Richards Branson’s not-for-profit group and has helped over 11,000 startups grow into new markets. Of particular relevance is the UK Foodpreneur program which celebrates food entrepreneurship and drives trade outcomes.
“Also, Telstra, KMPG and FKG Group will present their plans for the region and the opportunities that will exist through their investments.”
Mr McConnel said nine presentations from innovators will also be delivered to potential investors in attendance at the forum.
“These presentations will range from startup’s seeking seed capital, commercialised innovation seeking clients and global leading technology that is new to Australia.
“In response to industry, we’ve broadened the scope of the presentations to ensure participants hear much more of the here-and-now innovations, not just the innovations that will be coming in the next five to 10 years.”
He said through previous forums investment matching has seen cattle tracking technology, cropping drone applications and farm software companies grow into commercial businesses.
Mr McConnel said during the forum participants will be able to hear from global leaders in innovation, network with industry professionals “and gain an understanding of what Industry 4.0 will look like in Toowoomba and what opportunities will exist to grow their business in this new world”.
“Further, they’ll get a first look at some game-changing innovation about to hit the market.”
He said Toowoomba “is right at the heart of ag and food technology” within Australia making it the logical place to hold the forum.
“Due to the diversity of production systems around SQ and the global connectivity due to the Wellcamp airport and other road and rail infrastructure, Toowoomba is leading the development of whole-of-industry, and whole-of-supply chain technology development.”
Mr McConnel said as a way of maximising the impact of the event, all food consumed on the day will be a new and innovative product.
“Morning tea will feature new freeze dried products, the water provided will be brought directly from the humidity in the air and there will be many other surprises on the day for participants.
He said a trade hall showcasing the best in innovation at the event will further add to what participants take away from the forum.