World agtech leaders descent on Melbourne for evokeAG

Robots, drones, ‘braindates’ and molecular whiskey brewed in a lab. No, it’s not “The Matrix” but just some of the highlights from the inaugural evokeAG event held in Melbourne this week.

Held at the Royal Exhibition Building, the sold out event powered by AgriFutures Australia had foodies, farmers and agtech aficionados enthralled with the future laid out before them.

The 100 thought-leaders who took to the stage over the two days are renowned for changing the very notions of how we will feed the world’s rapidly growing population. Regarded as ‘disruptors’ for their visionary innovation, the world-leading speakers connected Australian primary producers with global insights in an Australian first.

AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said the event, the first of its kind in the country, exceeded all expectations.

“With 1,200 delegates from 20 countries in the audience, the message was loud and clear – the agricultural sector is crying out for international cohesion. evokeAG delivered on its promise to deliver leading edge farming insights from the best in the world, and the response has been amazing.

“evokeAG has created a new benchmark, and one that will allow our farmers and entrepreneurs the opportunity to take charge and maintain our status as one of the world’s leading agricultural communities, armed with the latest tools and strategies,” said Mr Harvey.

NSW delegate Kellie Crossley said a personal highlight was Tuesday evening’s Festival of Food, where delegates were offered the chance to literally taste the future with an array of offerings geared towards a futuristic sensory experience.

“As a lamb and beef producer I was pretty dubious at the prospect of grasshoppers as an alternative protein, but I have to say it wasn’t too bad. If given a choice I think I’d take the whiskey cocktail though!” said Mrs Crossley.

The foodie theme continued on day 2, with panelists discussing the challenges of introducing consumers to future foods and whether the masses are ready to eat finless fish, chicken-less eggs and molecular beverages.

Leading Australian journalist Jenny Brockie led a robust panel discussion dissecting the future of Australia’s food and fibre industries, with leading voices including Spencer Maughan from Finestre Ventures and Ethy Levy from The Bridge Hub looking hard at how events in our backyard have global implications.

AgThentic’s Sarah Nolet facilitated a spirited dialogue on the new frontiers being explored in alternative farming, asking whether the Australian agtech industry has overpromised and under-delivered.

Agrifood tech pioneer and panellist Olympia Yarger was a strong voice when it came to the challenges of scaling a leading startup.

There have been a lot of promises from the agtech industry. Obviously some of these will take time to meaningfully manifest.

“However, ‘delay’ or extended delivery times on magic bullets that are sold at the beginning of a venture, can weaken confidence. Startups need to manage this challenge to meaningfully engage their stakeholders in ways that address this,” said Ms Yarger.

Were you in Melbourne for evokeAG? Leave us a comment below to share your highlights!


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