Agriculture Tech Forum

Unveiling Australia's AgriTech Potential




Agriculture is almost universally agreed to be one of the sectors where Australia can take a lead in technology innovation and gain competitive advantage. With the goal to double agricultural output by 2030, sensors and data analytics capabilities are expected to be deployed in every step of the value chain.

The Agriculture Tech Forum provides an in-depth examination of the state of  agtech in Australia and globally, drawing upon professional experiences of keynote speakers and panellists. Expect good representation from various Australian, particularly NSW, agriculture bodies as well as global corporates and financial institutions all highly engaged with the future of the agtech revolution.



15.00 - 15.30 Guest arrival and registrations 



15.30 - 15.40 Welcome & opening remarks from the founder of Everything IoT and forum MC:


Eitan Bienstock, Propeller VC


Stuart Waite, Timpani


Keynote Presentations - Local and Global Perspectives

15.40 - 17.10 Special Guests:

Alex McBratney, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment , University of Sydney

      "Digitally de-commoditising agriculture"

Dianna Somerville,  Director, RTGC Group

      "The Future of Ag - A Regional Perspective"

Jenianne Hall,  Director, Program Innovation, NSW Department of Primary Industries

        "IoT: Should Government lead, enable or just get out of the way"

Andrea Koch,  Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Sydney

         "Crossing the chasm - creating a new agri-tech ecosystem"


Amanda Goddard,  Associate Director, KPMG

       "Recipe for success: The ingredients for an Australian AgTech sector"

Chris Sounness,  CEO, Birchip Cropping Group

        "Connectivity Capability Trust - Farm challenges and opportunities with Digital Disruption"

Afternoon Tea

17.10 - 17.30 Light refreshments, coffee, tea and pastries 


Showcasing Innovations

17.30 - 18.20 Agriculture Tech Startups' presentations

Ian Reilly, CEO and Founder, Agersens Pty Ltd

Dave Newman, CEO & Co Founder of Ovass Pty Ltd

Simon Blyth, CEO and Founder, LX Group

Matthew Pryor, Co-founder & CTO, Observant

Short Break

18.20 - 18.30 Light refreshments 


Panel Discussion

18.30 - 19.20 The Future of Agriculture Tech in Australia

Moderator: Eitan Bienstock, Founder, Everything IoT

Alex McBratney, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment , University of Sydney

Peter Riddles,  Board Member, CSIRO

Gavin Smith, President, Bosch Oceania

Dianna Somerville,  Director, RTGC Group

Jenianne Hall,  Director, Program Innovation, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Closing Remarks

19.20 - 19.30



Networking Drinks and canapes

19.30 - 20.30 


Alex McBratney

Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment , University of Sydney

Alex McBratney has made major contributions to soil science and agriculture through the development of  the concepts of Pedometrics, Digital soil mapping and Precision agriculture. After completing his PhD work at Rothamsted Experimental Station in the UK, Alex spent seven years with CSIRO Division of Soils in Brisbane, Australia. Alex joined the University of Sydney in 1989 to lead the soil science discipline. He is currently Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and Professor of Soil Science, and Chief Editor of the global soil science journal, Geoderma. He is heavily involved with the activities of the International Union of Soil Sciences and the global digital soil map project, GlobalSoilMap. In 2014 he was awarded the VV Dokuchaev medal by the International Union of Soil Sciences, which is the highest honour in the soil science discipline. Currently he is helping to develop and promote the concepts of global soil security and digital agriculture.  He was recently elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Peter Riddles

Board Member, CSIRO

Peter Riddles provides advice on policy and strategy for obtaining social and economic benefit through the application of science and technology, and he works as a director and/or advisor to range of biotechnology and medical technology companies and charities. He is currently a board member of the CSIRO, is a Member of its Science and Industry Endowment Fund, and Chairs the Experimental Development Program. He is also a Member of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Committee of AusIndustry. He has served on the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority (Canada) for six years; the Innovation Australia Board and the Industry Research and Development Board over a ten-year period, and the Australia - New Zealand Biotechnology Fund.  He has consulted widely in North America, Europe and Asia and recently lead the Innovation Delegation as part of Australia Week in China. He is a Fellow of the California Technology Council. Initially trained as a scientist, he studied biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Queensland, Stanford University and the University of Cologne.

Gavin Smith

President, Bosch Oceania

Gavin Smith joined Bosch Australia in 1990 following 10 years in various Information Technology roles at a number of well-known Multinationals in Australia and New Zealand. After a successful two years in Frankfurt as part of Bosch’s Original Equipment Sales team, Gavin held a number of senior leadership positions in the company’s Australian Automotive Components divisions including Regional President of the Powertrain Division from 2003 and Regional President of the Vehicle Safety Systems Division from 2008. In 2011, Gavin was promoted to the positon of President and Chairman of the local subsidiary Robert Bosch Australia. Gavin holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and an MBA from Monash University in Melbourne. In addition to his Bosch responsibilities, Gavin is a councillor for the Australian Industry Group, and holds board positions with Stillwell Motor Group, FMP and the German-Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Dianna Somerville

Director, RTGC Group

Dianna Somerville, Director RGTC Group, is the founder of AgriHack and Regional Pitchfest. Regionally based, Dianna has become a respected voice for Ag innovation and application. Her passions surround promotion of next generation farming and opportunities for more start-ups in the regions. AgriHack and Regional Pitchfest encourage the celebration of regional ideas and the opportunity for collision between academia/tech/design thinking/industry/government and most importantly the Farmer.

Dianna is a distigush graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, a UNSW graduate and ex Navel Officer.

Jenianne Hall

Director, Program Innovation, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Jenianne leads NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) innovation agenda to drive sustainable economic growth in primary industries. In an environment of rapidly changing social, mobile and analytic technologies and disruptive market trends, Jenianne focuses on enabling DPI to think differently and embrace change in the programs, policies and services it delivers. Jenianne has over 20 years’ experience in agribusiness and finance, across the private, not-for-profit and government sectors, and in established and start-up businesses. This diversity enables an in-depth appreciation of the challenges and opportunities faced by primary industries in an increasingly connected and complex world. A key responsibility for Jenianne is managing DPI’s involvement in Cisco-led Innovation Central Sydney. Innovation Central Sydney brings together businesses, innovators, researchers and government to develop Internet of Everything solutions for smart cities, transport and agriculture.

Andrea Koch

Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Sydney

Andrea Koch is a Consultant in Digital Agriculture and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. Andrea grew up on a South Australian cropping and sheep farm. Andrea is an experienced marketer, strategist and project manager with 20 years of experience in product development in the telecommunication and media industries. In recent years her focus turned to sustainability. As part of the Dow Sustainability Program, Andrea led a soil policy think tank at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. During this time, she became Australia’s leading expert on international and domestic soil policy within an environmental and agricultural context. With her technology development background, she is now bringing her knowledge of soil and agriculture together with the big data phenomena to help bring about the digital transformation of Australia’s farming sector.  

Amanda Goddard

Associate Director, KPMG

Amanda is passionate about contributing to the strategy and successful future of Australia’s emerging AgTech market. Amanda is currently leading a research project on the potential of digital AgTech for Australia in improving on-farm productivity and sustainability and also as a new export for Australia. Working with StartupAus, and with the support of the Queensland Government and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this report takes a high-level look at the importance of AgTech, identifies better practice from AgTech hubs around the world, draws out key success stories within Australia, and looks to set the scene for focussed and constructive AgTech conversations in Australia. Amanda has over 10 years experience in professional services across business development and audit and is a qualified chartered accountant.

Chris Sounness

CEO, Birchip Cropping Group

Chris Sounness is CEO of BCG. He has spent twenty years at the development and extension end of getting innovation and research on farm. He grew up on a family farm in WA. Since 1992 he has worked in the Wimmera Mallee of Victoria. Firstly in Private Breeding Canola research and then a long stint in the Govt Agricultural dept. working with farmers and their advisers to increase uptake of agricultural research particularly  through building farmers knowledge and skills in agronomy and seasonal climate risk.  Chris belives that family farms need to be run as a business and to be successful, season decision making need be taken accordigly. In the next few years precision agriculture, the data it creates and the utilisation in decision making both on farm and all along the supply chain is going to lead to many exciting changes. What they are and how disruptive they will be is in our hands.

Ian Reilly

CEO and Founder, Agersens Pty Ltd

Ian Reilly is an engineer and entrepreneur with with more than 25 years  experience developing new technology products for global markets.  Beginning in the defence and aerospace industry Ian has deep experience developing medical devices, consumer and industrial products for startups in California through to some of the worlds largest companies and most recognised brands. In 2014 Ian founded Agersens - an agri-tech startup developing the world’s first livestock virtual shepherd.  This IoT system will connect each animal to the internet and enable farmers to fence, move and monitor their livestock using their smartphone or tablet.

Dave Newman

CEO & Co Founder of Ovass Pty Ltd

Dave Newman is a software designer and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience designing award winning software for some of the worlds largest blue-chip companies. From his early days of growing up on a farm to a career in technology where he earned UK Systems Profession of the Year at the UK IT Industry Awards, Dave made the move to Australia in 2012 where he and co founder Ravi Nichani formed Ovass Pty Ltd. An agtech startup that combines the power of their smart sensor enablement platform, IoT protocols and big data analytics to give actionable task based actions/insights to farmers and growers to increase yields. Dave is also one of Western Australia’s leading startup advocates where he runs WA’s largest business networking group Morning Startup which is dedicated to technology startups and digital disruption.

Simon Blyth

CEO and founder, Smart Elements and LX Group

Simon is the CEO and founder of Smart Elements, an IoT agtech start-up focussed on providing high quality "sensor as a service” solutions for farmers, agronomists and software developers, enabled by the LX IoT Cores.  Growing up on a sheep and grain farm in Northern NSW and having a passion for IoT product development, Simon has a strong personal desire to see technology accelerate the performance of Australian agriculture.  With a product development consultancy background in the design of mission critical military, medical, industrial and agricultural solutions the team at Smart Elements have develop a wide range of IoT ag sensor and tracking devices with a vision of accelerating innovation by enabling software developers to build niche vertical applications.  The Smart Elements HAAS model takes away the pain needing to deal with the on-farm hardware & network problem, allowing organisations focussed on vertical solutions, analytics and end-user support to invest in what matters most.  As a previous winner of the Science and Innovation Awards for young people in agriculture and a number of other national and international awards, Simon has spent over 15 years looking at ways of applying ultra-low power wireless technology to increase agricultural performance.  

Matthew Pryor

Co-founder & CTO, Observant

As co-founder of Observant, Matthew has been instrumental in the development of the AgTech market in Australia, and in the rapid growth of the US market having established Observant's US headquarters in Sacramento, CA in 2013.

Observant has been at the forefront of the application of IoT and BigData to improving agricultural productivity through a focus on precision farm water management. Australia's experience in technical and policy response for climate adaptive agriculture have direct application to global agricultural productivity challenges and Observant is bringing that experience and innovation to a broad range of applications.

Stuart Waite

Chief Executive Officer, Timpani

Stuart is a startup investor, mentor, product innovator and digital transformation expert. He's focused on the strategic direction and delivery of innovative products to a multitude of platforms across Mobile, Web, TV and the Internet of Things. With 20 plus years working in digital media he has developed a finely tuned sense of how best to build teams and implement digital transformation in businesses that are struggling to adapt to the disruption around them. As a strong advocate for lean user-centric design, Stuart’s at the forefront of digital innovation and product design whose strategies and concepts are delivering the next generation of user experiences, engagement, business models, and product development.

Eitan Bienstock

Managing Partner, Propeller VC and Founder, Everything IoT

Entrepreneur, investor and startup mentor, Eitan spent the past 20 years working for fortune 100 companies, venture capital firms and founding couple of startups in Israel, the US and Australia. During the late 90’s Eitan was responsible for the development of Intel Israel’s incubator program, which resulted in over USD100M increase in sales for supported companies in the first 3 years of the program including a successful listing on NASDAQ of (NVMI). After selling his events hire and online marketing companies in 2013, Eitan joined Artesian Capital as a managing director, corporate venturing. Currently, Eitan is Managing Partner at the San Francisco based Propeller Venture Capital and the founder of Everything IoT.


© 2015 by Sigma Ventures Pty Ltd

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