Cicada Innovations & GRDC launch Australia’s first grain agtech challenge

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SYDNEY, Nov. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Australia’s pioneer deep tech incubator Cicada Innovations is launching Australia’s first grain agtech challenge in conjunction with the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), and is now calling for entrepreneurs, grain growers, and researchers to apply.

The GrowLab Grains Challenge is designed to uncover innovative deep tech solutions that will help to drive sustainability and create enduring profitability for Australia’s $13.77 billion grain growing industry.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in a 6-month coaching program, which includes a dedicated workspace at the Cicada Innovations incubator, and membership to Cicada’s deep tech community.

Participants will also have access to state-of-the-art rapid prototyping facilities, shared labs, curated events, and resources, and introductions to Cicada’s and the GRDC’s network of mentors, leading industry experts, investors, and successful entrepreneurs.

Program participants will be given guidance on how to refine their value proposition, navigate the agtech and grains industry, build their business model and pricing, identify the right customers and partners, become investment ready, and build a winning team.

Applicants with solutions from a diverse range of research and industries beyond just agtech are encouraged to apply. This could include application in automation being used in mining, biotech (nanotech, synthetic biology, antimicrobial resistance), data science, circular economy, and sustainability.

Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of Cicada Innovations, said: “The grain growing industry is a huge contributor to the Australian economy, and it’s critical we find new ways to support its sustainability and long term profitability.  Sourcing new deep technology solutions and supporting their pathway to market will benefit the grains sector and regional communities.

“We are excited to launch Australia’s first grain agtech challenge, and we are optimistic about the prospect of uncovering innovative, groundbreaking solutions to novel problems that often arise at the intersection of multiple disciplines and industries through deep technologies.

“Through this challenge we are seeking out innovators working across all manner of fields and technologies, from task automation and sensors to renewable technologies and genetic tools. We’re looking for solutions that will help growers to develop new, novel, and high-value products and by-products for health and nutrition, animal feed, and industrial uses or biofuels.”

Chris Murphy, GRDC Manager Business Development and Commercialisation – North, said: “The GrowLab Grains Challenge is about supporting innovators with ideas that could potentially transform the grains industry.

“GRDC is committed to investigating and exploring innovative concepts and new technologies from grain growers and other non-traditional sources from Australia and across the globe.

“With the support of incubators like Cicada Innovations we want to position successful participants so they are well-placed to attract further equity investment and take their products or services to the next level.

“This innovation investment might seem different to the way in which GRDC has traditionally provided support, such as through universities, state agriculture departments or the CSIRO.

“However, the intent and outcomes are still aligned with our strategic plan. That is, we want to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.”

According to GRDC, 22,500 grain farmers created $13.77 billion in gross value of production in the Australian grains industry in 2020-21, including $12.4 billion in exported grains.

Grain is also Australia’s second largest agricultural industry by value, accounting for 27 per cent of total gross value of production.

Applications are now open until 17th December 2021. All interested parties can apply here.

Cicada Innovations ( is the home of deep tech in Australia. The Sydney-based incubator with a twenty-one year track record of developing deep tech ventures tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Working at the forefront of innovation, it supports ventures seeking to create life-changing technology – applying cutting-edge science such as advanced materials, synthetic biology and AI to challenges like the future of human health, food security and the climate crisis.                   

Since inception, Cicada has seen an unprecedented $1.2bn in exits from six deep tech ventures in the last two decades and helped over 300 companies to raise more than $930m in funding. It has twice been awarded ‘Top Incubator in the World’ by InBIA, and delivered commercialisation training to thousands working in science & technology. 

Grains Research & Development Corporation ( is a corporate Commonwealth entity established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989 (PIRD Act) and our portfolio department is the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Our purpose is to invest in research, development and extension (RD&E) to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers. They invest in RD&E projects to deliver new and improved varieties, farming practices, technologies and capability to the Australian grains industry. These investments drive the discovery, development and delivery of world-class innovation.

SOURCE Cicada Innovations

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