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Hort Innovation News and events Media Releases Worldwide search for labour-saving tech underway
Media Release

Worldwide search for labour-saving tech underway

Publication date: 11 December 2023

Aussie growers could soon reap the benefits of technology from across the globe through a scan of startups that offer innovative solutions to labour challenges.

Delivered through Hort Innovation and led by Startupbootcamp Australia, the project will search for and identify startups from across the globe that have developed innovative labour efficiency technology which can be piloted or trialled within the Australian horticulture industry.

Hort Innovation general manager production & sustainability Dr Anthony Kachenko said research into labour solutions for the horticulture industry is essential.

“Labour shortages, rising labour costs and the need for increased efficiency are all front-of-mind challenges for our growers,” Dr Kachenko said.

“Hort Innovation is committed to providing innovative solutions for the sector, and the best way to address this challenge is through the identification and subsequent adoption of new technologies.”

“By leveraging the technologies and innovations found through this project, the Australian horticulture industry will be better equipped to enhance productivity, reduce labour-related challenges, and ensure a more sustainable and competitive future for the sector.”

Startupbootcamp Australia food innovation partner Dr Anna Barlow said tapping into the startup and scaleup space globally will yield great results for growers as the end users of agricultural technology.

“A distinctive aspect of early-stage companies and startups is their customer-centric approach,” Dr Barlow said.

“These companies often commence their journey by identifying a specific customer problem such as labour shortages and then building innovative solutions around it. This methodology ensures that the products or technologies developed align with and effectively addresses genuine market needs, a contrast to the occasional disconnect between traditional R&D efforts and real-world applications.”

Horticulture employs almost twice the number of workers per farm than the next largest on-farm employer (sheep) and in 2021/2022 more than 55 per cent of farms experienced recruiting difficulty. For the 2022/23 period, 85 per cent of farms expected to require the same or more workers than the previous year (Source: ABARES Horticulture Survey).

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Lauren Jones
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