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EvokeAG Two-day TECH HUBAsia-Pacific agtech conference EvokeAG comes to Perth in February, bringing the brightest international minds in the agriculture industry with it. Can you afford to miss it? What is EvokeAG? EvokeAG is the Asia Pacific regions’ premier agrifood innovation event for those involved in the food, fibre and fuel industries to connect, collaborate and showcase our exceptional edge when it comes to agtech. Since launching in 2019, it’s expanded its reach into Asia, Europe and the Americas. The 2023 statistics were: • 1600 delegates from 18 countries • Startup Alley showcased 40 of our best and brightest agrifood tech innovators • The Investor Pitch Dinner saw five startups pitch to influential agrifood tech investors, representing AUD$450B in capital5. IN what is a huge boon for the West Australian horticulture and wider agriculture industries, the Asia-Pacific’s leading agrifood innovation event EvokeAg will be staged in Perth on February 20 and 21. The world’s sharpest minds in innovation and tech thinkers will be presenting to participants, making this a huge opportunity for local growers. Renowned as a unique, cross-sector international event, it will deliver the cutting-edge of agtech, share ideas and build connections in pursuit of a more resilient, sustainable and profitable agrifood sector and value chain. It’s touted as the event of the year in terms of developments in tech for our sector, so local industry bodies are encouraging locals to take advantage of its proximity. “At evokeAG 2024 we want to ignite fresh perspectives, spark innovative thinking and ultimately propel transformative change as we facilitate discussions of global significance and tackle the issues that are yet to be fully comprehended,” says Harriet Mellish, AgriFutures’ general manager of Global Innovation Networks. “Every speaker featured in the evokeAG program is on a mission to address complex challenges through innovative solutions. They’re a diverse range of thought-leaders and change-makers who will delve into the current environment and influences that have created a critical juncture for the ag sector.” From a local entrepreneur using ‘maggot robots’ to address food waste to one of the world’s leading generative AI experts, evokeAG has a strong lineup. Will AI change how and what we eat? Does the war on waste need a rethink? Where is agrifood tech investment going next? All the big questions will be on the table. For its fourth year, the event will also host robust discussions on how innovation can solve major problems from feeding the world to climate change and resource management. Harriet says the event will explore “examples of cutting-edge technologies, disruptive business models, groundbreaking research and development, and sustainable practices”. “In their own way, each of these speakers is working to reshape their sectors and value chains, to build a more sustainable, resilient, productive, and profitable future,” she adds. With the theme of ‘Exceptional Edge’, the event will explore how Australia is kicking goals to secure its place as a global heavyweight in agricultural production and sustainability. Through the strength of some of the most innovative inspirational speakers and startups, it will showcase Australia’s exceptional edge to the rest of the world. Nina Schick, founder of Tamang Ventures Abi Ramanan, co-founder of Papa’s Pickles Stephen Forshaw, chief representative for ANZ and APAC Airbus Photography courtesy EvokeAG Day one Artificial intelligence (AI). It’s here. But where does it start, where does it end and what comes next? Journey into the future of AI with Nina Schick, founder of Tamang Ventures, to discover how it will change the way we produce, trade, consume food and agricultural commodities. Nina will give a keynote address before moving on to facilitating a panel ‘The Great Balancing Act: AI, the Possibilities and the Responsibilities’ alongside Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO of Inari, and food systems entrepreneur Abi Ramanan.Abi will also share the incredible story behind one of the most exciting agrifood tech innovations in years in her keynote presentation, ‘Innovating for Good: How Agrifood Tech can Digitise Food Supply Chains and Reduce Food Waste’. Abi is the cofounder of Papa’s Pickles, a food social enterprise and will share how, and where in the supply chain, technology can help avoid the current climate where a third of all food we produce globally is going to waste. In these sessions, participants will learn how the Australian biofuels industry is operating in a panel discussion with Stephen Forshaw, chief representative for ANZ and APAC, Airbus and others before being treated to a thoughtprovoking panel discussion with Cressida Cains, co-founder of Pecora Dairy, Nick Stamatiou, CEO and co-founder of Whole, and Professor Philip Howard from Michigan State University. The trio will talk all things market access, input costs, logistics and supply and demand in ‘Price Maker, or Price Taker? Unlocking the Potential of More Equitable Agrifood Supply Chains’. How to Convince Your Boss to Approve Your Request to Attend There’s an old saying: ‘it’s not what you know; it’s who you know’. And there’s arguably no industry where that’s truer than agriculture and its value chain. There’s no need to spend hours making online connections, at evokeAG you’ll be sitting next to or standing in line with like-minded innovators, investors, decision-makers and producers (among others). • If you’re a producer, you can leverage the best information and technology to push your productivity to the edge. • If you’re an innovator, this is a chance to share knowledge and solutions, speak with farmers and investors. The networking opportunities are endless – from the founders in Startup Alley or Scaleup Station, through to event partners and 1600 odd delegates – you can build connections in the lunch line, Startup Alley and plenary session. It is two days out of the year to step away from the day-to-day and activate your big picture thinking to develop the strategy and connections to create a business that ‘works for you’ for the other 363 days of the year. Think about it as working on your business, not in it – an investment in an enterprise that will deliver stable returns. Olympia Yarger, founder and CEO of GOTERR Dr Pam Marrone, co-founder and executive chair, Invasive Species Corporation, Nitin Vaish, business development – agriculture at Ginkgo Bioworks Day two It will be a meeting of the minds (and hardware versus software) when Olympia Yarger, founder and CEO of GOTERRA and Justin Webb, co-founder and executive chairman of AgriWebb, come together in The Great Exchange. Onshore vs offshore – is it okay for Australia to be an incubator for the development of agtech and innovation to enable exporting of IP, and should we aim for more local growth and investment to retain IP? And who could do more? Are corporates getting a free ride? Are VCs all talk? What can RDCs do differently? It’s all on the table and more, so settle in as these two hit the stage to discuss, debate and deconstruct. Biologicals are on the brink of exciting prospects – using natural defences to improve yields, prevent disease and ward off pests – but how does an industry on the edge of adoption take the next step and realise its potential? Join ‘Biologicals: Where to From Here?’ to hear from Dr Pam Marrone, co-founder and executive chair of Invasive Species Corporation and Nitin Vaish business development – agriculture at Ginkgo Bioworks, along with front-line producers and academics as they shine the spotlight on the hurdles and pathways to success and scale. Private equity investments in agrifood technology are on the rise and reshaping the role of venture capital. Is increased diversity of capital solutions of benefit to founders, farmers, and the start-up ecosystem? Or does it crowd the path to success and scale? In a panel discussion between leading international agrifood tech VCs and toptier private equity investors – ‘Pooling our resources towards a collaborative investment landscape’ – discover what current market and investment trends mean for the Australian agrifood technology and innovation ecosystem. These topics and sessions are guaranteed to spark connections, ignite collaboration and forge valuable partnerships. MORE INFORMATION To purchase tickets, visit evokeag.com/2024. Five Reasons NOT to miss EvokeAG 1 Exploring AI in AgricultureAs the uptake of artificial intelligence accelerates across all aspects of society, keynote speaker Nina Schick’s Mindbending ‘AI: The Edge of Possibility’ will look at how AI will change how we produce, trade and consume food and agricultural commodities. Renowned as one of the world’s first generative AI experts, Nina founded UK-based Tamang Ventures, an advisory firm working with AI and technology companies. With a background in geopolitical crises, she has advised world leaders including US President Joe Biden and former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Nina will also join ‘The Great Balancing Act: AI, the Possibilities and the Responsibilities’, a panel discussion exploring the opportunities for AI to improve efficiency, production and resilience across the agrifood supply chain. The panel features food systems entrepreneur Abi Ramanan, who founded ImpactVision, an imaging and machine learning technology startup tackling the $1 trillion food waste problem. After ImpactVision was acquired by Apeel Sciences in 2020, Abi had a stint as a project lead at Google’s X, the moonshot factory, working on synthetic biology in the climate space. On this powerhouse panel you’ll also hear from Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO and director of Inari, a US biotechnology company using new breeding technology to design seeds for a more sustainable global food system. 2 Making Haste on the War on WasteDid you know a third of all food we produce globally is wasted? Abi Ramanan’s keynote ‘Innovating for Good: How Agrifood Tech can Digitise Food Supply Chains and Reduce Food Waste’ will shed light on how innovations available today can solve issues like food fraud and prevent product recalls. The circular economy will be under the microscope in the panel discussion ‘Beyond Waste: From Obsolescence to Value Creation’, featuring Murdoch University’s Professor Navid Moheimani and global civil engineering company GHD’s circular economy expert Huia Adkins. Professor Richard Eckard, director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, will help delegates understand the importance of qualifying emissions, and take part in a discussion on the next steps to sustainable, profitable agrifood systems in ‘Leaders and Laggards: Pathways to a more Sustainable Agrifood Landscape’. It’s also fitting that evokeAG has enlisted a well-known voice in the war on waste as the event host: Aussie comedian and host of the ABC’s War on Waste, Craig Reucassel. War on Waste has led to 452 high-impact waste-reducing initiatives across businesses, schools, universities, government and community organisations, according to a study by the ABC and University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.3 ESG and Investment OpportunitiesWhere do finance and food intersect? Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), where the opportunity for financial support to the agricultural sector is only getting bigger as the need for environmental solutions grows. US entrepreneur Robyn O’Brien, founder of Sirona Ventures, will inspire attendees with the day two keynote ‘On a Knife’s Edge: The Need for Responsible Investment’. Another keynote highlight comes from Dr Lewis Akenji, managing director of Germany’s Hot or Cool Institute, a public interest think tank exploring the intersection between society and sustainability. He will present ‘Agrifood systems: Balancing the Social Tensions and Emissions Budget’. So, what’s next for agrifood tech investment? The ‘Pooling our Resources Towards a Collaborative Investment Landscape’ session will give a rare insight from heavy hitters from both Australia and abroad.4 The Exceptional Edge of Australian AgrifoodLiving up to evokeAG 2024’s theme of ‘Exceptional Edge’, Australian agrifood innovators will show how we’re using our exceptional edge to be a global heavyweight in agricultural production and sustainability in a discussion likened to a great US presidential debate. ‘The Great Exchange’ discussion will feature changemakers, such as Olympia Yarger, whose food waste management start-up Goterra produces high-tech modular systems, dubbed ‘Maggot Robots’, using insects to process food and organic waste, reducing it by 95 per cent in just 24 hours. Goterra recently won Best Sustainability Startup at the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards. Another guest will be Justin Webb, founder and managing director of AgriWebb, an agtech SaaS company that manages more than 20 million livestock across 150 million acres with $50 billion in agricultural assets.5 Networking and Startup AlleyThroughout both days, guests can use an RSM business lounge for meetings; drop into the networking exhibition to meet event partners to see what’s new in agrifood innovation; and pay a visit to the popular Startup Alley, featuring nearly 40 local and global startups leading the way in agrifood innovation. There’s also a range of sideline events, workshops, functions and even regional tours to see how WA is doing agritech, primary production and innovation in Perth and beyond.