The Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes have joined up to back Tenacious Ventures, a specialised investment fund aimed at cultivating sustainable technology innovations in Australia’s agricultural supply chain.
Each party has pledged $8 million towards the agrifood tech investment fund: the CEFC via its Clean Energy Innovation Fund and Cannon-Brookes via his private investment fund with partner Annie Cannon-Brookes, Grok Ventures.
This will take total investment to $30 million in the hands of Tenacious Ventures, which will support and invest in up to 20 early-stage “agrifood tech” start-ups with “bold, tenacious founders committed to solving big problems” across all areas of the agricultural sector.
CEFC chief executive officer Ian Learmonth said the venture will aim to address a series of challenges: “how to produce more food, more efficiently, for a growing population amid a more extreme climate, while also reducing greenhouse gas intensity and emissions”.
“As a major food exporter Australia has an opportunity to be at the forefront of innovative technology solutions than can address these challenges,” Mr Learmonth said.
Co-founder of the fund, Matthew Pryor, suggested was this was possible, highlighting that “Australian farmers reduced the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of agriculture by 63 per cent between 1996 and 2016”.
According to the CEFC, agricultural production will need to increase by at least 60 per cent compared on a the outputs of a decade ago in order to cater to the world’s projected population of 10 billion by 2050.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said innovations such as those supported by the fund are “desperately needed” if these targets are to be met and sustainability improved.
“There’s no doubt that new ideas in agriculture will play a massive role in reducing carbon emissions,” he said. “The economic upside for Australia’s economy is also huge.”
“But more needs to be done to develop and export agricultural technology that improves the efficiency of production on a global scale,” Mr Learmonth concluded.