Merredin ag-tech innovator awarded DPIRD scholarships to attend Curtin Ignition Program


2018 DPIRD Curtin Ignition Program Scholarship recipients Rhys Haines (left) and Ross Eastwood (right) talk to DPIRD research officer Alex Douglas about the course and how it will assist the development of their grains innovations.
2018 DPIRD Curtin Ignition Program Scholarship recipients Rhys Haines (left) and Ross Eastwood (right) talk to DPIRD research officer Alex Douglas about the course and how it will assist the development of their grains innovations.

Two budding agricultural technology entrepreneurs have received a scholarship to attend the 2018 Curtin Ignition Program innovation accelerator program.

The scholarships were provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, as part of an initiative to stimulate innovation and business opportunities in the grains industry.

It is the third time the department has provided the scholarships for recipients to attend the intense, week-long development program, run by the Curtin Business School.

Curtin University electrical engineering student Rhys Haines, who hails from Merredin, is working with a colleague on a data capture and analysis platform to develop an app to manage and control farm records and information.

Mr Haines said the technology would assist growers to monitor crops from their computers to identify crop variability and optimise inputs.

“We are currently developing the proof of concept and building a prototype and I’m hoping the Curtin Ignition program will help us to compile a business plan,” he said.

“I’m really interested in learning more about business development and how to attract investment to develop our proposal.”

Previous DPIRD Curtin Ignition Program scholarships have been provided to recipients to develop innovations including a grain based infant formula, a prototype bioconversion system and a grains, fruit and vegetable snack.

Department research officer Alex Douglas said the department’s investment in Curtin Ignition Program participants was crucial to stimulating new business innovations in the grains industry.

“This year’s successful applicants reflect the sector’s growing interest and reliance on ag-tech to advance grains production and improve profitability,” Ms Douglas said.

“It is important for grain growers to stay up-to-date with this change in the way we do business and capture the benefits generated by ag-tech through data based analysis and remote monitoring.”

Ross Eastwood, who grew up in Frankland, plans to use the experience to develop an online one-stop, integrated data management system for harvested grain, to enhance production analysis, marketing options and traceability.

Mr Eastwood said he was looking forward to working on a plan to advance his business idea, which could also be applied in the livestock industry.

“I’m really keen to seek input from business professionals, as well as tech advice on the software to help prove up my ideas and take them forward,” he said.

“The course is also a great opportunity to build business networks and develop industry contacts.”

For more information about previous scholarships and the department’s grains research, visit agric.wa.gov.au