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LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems

Over the last years, the agtech sector has taken off with a proliferation of agtech and foodtech accelerators and incubators across the country. Agtech will become increasingly important in driving Australia’s agricultural innovation but is the sector ready? Andrea Koch discusses how Australia can grow its own agriculture innovation ecosystem.

About Andrea

Andrea Koch is the Principal of Andrea Koch Agtech, an agricultural technology strategy, marketing and product development consultancy. Andrea is also a director with the National Farmers Federation Board and SproutX, Austalia’s first agtech accelerator.

Andrea holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and a Master of Sustainable Development and is from a fifth-generation Australian farming family. Her family background and varied career allow her to bring together farming and digital technology. She sees a future where digital technology underpins our farming sector being the most competitive and innovative in the world.

The rural versus the urban world

Australia has a unique agricultural research, development and extension system and Andrea sees a divide between what she describes as the ‘rural world’ and the ‘urban world’. On the one side there are users of on-farm technology – that is the farmers and the ‘ecosystem’ of rural suppliers, advisors and consultants. On the other side, are the investment and finance community, tech developers, urban based research institutions and the agri-political groups. These worlds are somewhat disconnected, and Andrea presents some of the changes that are required.

Please enjoy Andrea’s presentation.



This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School.

More blogs in the 2019 LBS Innovation Series:

The future trajectory of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is one of the younger disciplines in education and one of the fastest growing disciplines. With this in mind, our Professor of Entrepreneurship Alex Maritz has done research into where the discipline is at and where it is going. He looked at challenges the discipline is facing, but also how entrepreneurship is taught in Australia.

Entrepreneurship – The facts

Let’s start with some figures. The 2017/18 Australian National Report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) overall states a positive climate of the entrepreneurial activity in Australia.

  • 12% of the Australian adult population (18–64 years old) actively engaged in entrepreneurial activities
    • This equates to 1.8 million early-stage entrepreneurs
  • Australia’s profile of start-up activity (TEA) is particularly strong in the senior age groups.
  • Informal investment is strong in Australia, with the prevalence of business angels at about 4% of the population.
    • This equates to about 0.6 million informal investors financing entrepreneurial ventures in Australia.
  • Of the 1.8 million Australians engaged in starting new businesses, 38 percent or 690,000 were women.
    • This is high compared to other 24 developed economies included in the study.

There are some concerns as well. The fear of failure is slightly above the average of developed economies and youth entrepreneurship is lacking. Also, there is a high discontinuation rate of entrepreneurial activity in Australia, which provides an opportunistic platform for entrepreneurship education.

Challenges

Below are some of the challenges that entrepreneurship education is facing.

Trajectory 1: Why teach entrepreneurship?

The question is often whether entrepreneurship can be taught. According to Alex it certainly can be. Entrepreneurship education is about learning how to minimise risks to fail, which lowers the above-mentioned fear of failure, a great barrier to start a business. Interestingly, Universities of Australia mentions that more than four in five start-up founders in Australia are university graduates.

Trajectory 2: What is taught in entrepreneurship?

Teachers of entrepreneurship often speak from their own experiences, the risk associated with that is that their teaching is too much skewed towards their own expertise. A finance expert teaching entrepreneurship has a different take on entrepreneurship education than someone with a psychology background for example. This challenge can be tackled by viewing entrepreneurship as a process – from starting a business to exiting a business – and aligning a suite of subjects and courses to that process.

Trajectory 3: How to teach entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship education is about experiential learning, which is different from the traditional ways of delivering content such as lectures and tutorials. The move towards online learning also has shown to be a challenge. Entrepreneurship educators need to collaborate and network with other successful entrepreneurship educators, enhancing the scholarship of learning and teaching. These educators have to also update their knowledge and skills on the latest start-up nuances, such as blockchain, digital transformation and lean business models.

Trajectory 4: Outcomes of teaching Entrepreneurship

The only way to measure if people become entrepreneurs when they finish their degree, is their intention and efficacy to become successful entrepreneurs. In addition, entrepreneurs create employment versus seeking employment, adding not only to economic outcomes but social solutions.

Trajectory 5: Research in entrepreneurship

There are only two high tier entrepreneurship journals. Research in entrepreneurship has the aim to inform practice, but practitioners generally do not read academic research. Publications therefore should preferably happen in journals or magazines read by practitioners. The Harvard business Review is an example for this discipline to publish, although not an entrepreneurship focused journal.

Empowerment and transformation

Finally, entrepreneurial universities are not created overnight. According to Alex, if entrepreneurship is not one of the pillars or a strategic intent of the university, the discipline will not flourish. It has to be embedded into the entire university.  

Entrepreneurship education at LBS

The La Trobe Business School is in a transformative stage of entrepreneurship education, with recent research by Alex and Dr Quan Nguyen placing emphasis on the importance of empowerment and sustainable action to enhance the entrepreneurial university. LBS is one of the leading Australian higher education institutions in entrepreneurship education, evidenced by significant entrepreneurship ecosystems, leadership in entrepreneurship, active and impactful global partnerships, significant knowledge transfer, professors of practice, a successful incubator and associated university wide entrepreneurial initiatives.

Prof Alex Maritz with various staff members of the Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Marketing

LBS Innovation Series – Is Australia prepared?

Professor of Practice in economics at LBS, Dr Mark Cloney, asks: what are the key drivers of innovation, disruption and opportunity in the global food production and agribusiness sectors? And why have the Dutch got it so right?

Changing consumer demand, particularly in Asia, corporatisation of farming, automation on farms and in processing, agtech and advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), digitalisation of supply chains, agricultural science advances, and the emergence of vertical farming are just some of the drivers changing the dynamics of the global food production and agribusiness[1].

The Netherlands

Are Australia’s food producers and agribusiness well-informed and placed to understand these challenges and to gain from the opportunities they offer? Countries like The Netherlands certainly are[2]. Despite its relative size, the Dutch are the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products at $158 billion, or three times Australia’s exports[3]. Together with the USA and Spain, The Netherlands is one of the world’s three leading producers of vegetables and fruit supplying a quarter of the vegetables that are exported from Europe. Why? The Dutch are forward-looking, highly innovative and collaborative and have achieved worldwide recognition for their research, infrastructure and innovation systems. For example, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) is the number 1 agricultural university in the world for the third year in a row according to The National Taiwan Ranking of over 300 universities; while, 5 of the top 26 global agri-food companies have R&D facilities in The Netherlands[4].

Australia

So where does Australia stand in comparison? Nationally, the food and agribusiness sector employed approximately 522,000 persons and there were approximately 178,500 businesses trading in the sector (as at June 2015). According to the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda[5], food production and agribusiness are areas of competitive strength for Australia. Australia’s food and agribusiness sector includes food-related agricultural production, food processing and the major inputs to these activities. This includes: food products, processing and beverage manufacturing as well as key inputs; and, agribusiness that relates directly to food production and their supply chains.

La Trobe’s AgriBio Centre

La Trobe University has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping Australia create a vibrant future for those involved in the production of food, fibre and agribusiness. La Trobe plays its role in building human capital and undertaking R&D and scientific research that supports the food and agribusiness innovation system. For example, La Trobe’s AgriBio Centre brings together world-class research in the largest agricultural R&D organisation in Victoria. La Trobe recently announced funding of $50 million for its new La Trobe Institute for Agriculture and Food focused on solutions for global food security.  La Trobe is also a founding member and financial contributor to Melbourne’s Northern Food Group a partnership with the Victorian government, 5 local governments, 4 tertiary institutes, Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Innovation Centre, and the Melbourne Market Authority among others.

LBS/NORTHLink Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum

So how can Australia’s food producers and agribusiness prepare themselves against ever increasing disruption, and better collaborate with world class researchers and scientists in this field? These are some of the questions being explored at the Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum organised by LBS in partnership with NORTHLink. The focus of the Forum is on hearing from industry speakers of successful innovation in the food production and agribusiness sector. It will present industry and government perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation in this sector, particularly for SMEs and start-ups operating in a global context.

In particular, the Forum offers an opportunity to explore how we create the right collaborative partnerships and environment for food production and agribusiness to succeed globally in an era of increased disruption. Maybe we just need some Dutch courage!

 

References:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

LBS Innovation Series: University-industry collaboration and Intellectual Property

Dr. Ben Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at IP Australia, challenges the established view according to particular OECD statistics and rankings, that Australia is not very good at university-industry collaboration. This also runs contrary to the views of Innovation and Science Australia, the agency charged with developing a plan for Australia’s innovation prosperity through to 2030.

IP data

Ben’s argument is that the OECD’s understanding stands in contrast to the actual experience in Australia, for universities, industry and government when you examine joint patent application data. This IP data (patents, trademarks, design rights etc.) tells you what people are filing for rights protection and with whom they are partnering. This presentation focussed on presenting data from joint patent applications which is reported in the annual National Innovation Systems Report from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Why is this important?

Ben referenced research that shows firms that collaborate with research institutions are three times more likely to experience productivity growth. Ben argues when compared to universities internationally Australia’s performance compares very well with highly innovative and countries such as South Korea and Israel. Finally, Ben suggests the IP data demonstrates that joint patent applications between universities and industry are actually increasing in Australia.

 

Watch his presentation below:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

The “Aldi way”

LBS researcher Dr Angela McCabe and Dr Tom Osegowitsch (University of Melbourne), wrote an article for The Conversation on the secret to Aldi’s success.

Aldi’s strategy

An important element of Aldi’s strategy is a severely limited range of “preselected” products, overwhelmingly private brands. The company’s smaller range (some 1,500 store-keeping units as opposed to 20,000 to 30,000 in a large Coles or Woolworths outlet) has several advantages – in terms of store footprints, warehousing infrastructure and supplier discounts, to name a few.

Strategy has limits

In embracing the “Aldi way”, the company has made hard strategic choices. But it’s turning away shoppers who value things other than what’s on offer at Aldi – larger choice, established brands, more service, plusher stores, in-store bakeries and delis or expanded fresh food sections. As a result, Aldi’s growth in Australia is going to reach its limits.

Read the full article here:

The secret to Aldi’s success is choosing what not to do

 

Angela McCabe is a Lecturer in the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism at La Trobe University. Angela McCabe’s research focuses on the mechanism of knowledge transfer and knowledge co-production in cross-sector collaboration. Her work has contributed to understanding the way in which behavioural and institutional dynamics affect teamwork and the production and dissemination of knowledge within university-industry-government networks.

Watch: What failure can teach you

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Being able to bounce back after failure, learn from your mistakes and forge ahead with resilience are vital skills both in and out of the workplace. According to one survey, 91 per cent of HR decision-makers predict that resilience will be key to employability in the next few years.

For Michelle Gallaher, La Trobe alumnus and 2017 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year, failing is one of the most important things you can do. Watch our video to find out what Michelle learned from failing her first degree, and what failure can teach you.

Develop your resilience through La Trobe’s Career Ready Advantage program.

LBS alumni event a huge success!

On 25 October, La Trobe Business School welcomed Dr Fiona McKenzie from the Australian Futures Project for the school’s annual Alumni Event.

Dr Fiona McKenzie was welcomed by La Trobe Business School’s Head of School, Professor Paul Mather. Event attendees included LBS alumni, university and industry stakeholders.

In her speech, Dr Fiona McKenzie spoke about how businesses today are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This trend has often caused businesses process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

La Trobe Business School would like to thank Dr Fiona McKenzie for attending!

Will robots take our jobs?

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Technology advances are rapidly changing the world of work as we know it.

PwC predicts 44 per cent (5.1 million) of current Australian jobs are at high risk of being affected by computerisation and technology over the next 20 years. ‘By “high risk”’ the PwC report clarifies ‘we mean there’s a greater than 70 per cent chance the job could be automated by technology’.

La Trobe Futurist Dr Fiona McKenzie discusses the challenges and opportunities of digital disruption in the future workforce, and how we can adapt.

What jobs will become automated?

The 2015 PwC report says jobs most likely to be affected are those where computer learning systems or robotics are able to perform simple and routine tasks faster and more accurately than humans. ‘These typically include unskilled or low-skilled activities in offices, factories and shops,’ it states.

Dr McKenzie says we’re already seeing the seeds of automation in our neighbouring countries. ‘There’s change happening in the manufacturing space with automated robots and co-bots (collaborative robots), which are potentially going to totally change the garment industry and affect employment for millions and millions of people in Asia.’

‘What’s interesting,’ Dr McKenzie further points out, ‘is that people in mid-level jobs are now starting to feel the pinch too.

‘People thought skilled-labour would be safe from automation but in actual fact there are developments where relatively sophisticated tasks can now be automated too.’

Dr McKenzie says ‘I’m hesitant to say whole sectors’ will be automated or safe from automation. Rather, ‘there will be chunks of every sector that will change.’

Roles that require creative thinking, emotional intelligence, intuition and ‘all those things that humans have the advantage on’ will be safe in the near future. As will jobs that require human, face-to-face interactions, such as those in the healthcare sector.

What opportunities can digital disruption offer?

‘We tend to fear that what we don’t know, but automation creates a whole opportunity for something else to be augmented,’ explains Dr McKenzie.

For example, a nurse whose job is to deliver food to patients may find there’s an automated delivery cart that can soon do just that. ‘This can create the opportunity for the nurse to spend more time sitting with the patient, measuring blood pressure and providing better care,’ Dr McKenzie says, ‘and in fact Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital introduced automated guided vehicles to move linen and food back in 2012’.

The advent of the internet and the ability to instantly connect with others across the globe has also enabled the rise of ‘digital nomads’ and freelancers to work from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world.

CSIRO’s recent report into ‘Tomorrow’s digitally enabled workforce’ ‘identifies plausible [future] scenarios via which the many – possibly most – Australian workers become portfolio workers and freelancers’.

Dr McKenzie says, ‘There’s a huge cohort that will be highly skilled, in demand and able to shape their future – and they’ll flourish in this environment.

‘There’ll be lots of opportunities in terms of entrepreneurialism, portfolio work, creating your own identity, being able to work around the world and doing work you’re interested in rather than being tied to one job.’

The rise of portfolio work and the gig economy could mean people can choose flexible work like nights, weekends and part-time, which could be particularly beneficial to parents.

It could also open up more doors for rural dwellers to work remotely for urban and international companies.

The dark side of the precariat workforce

The flipside of the rise of the precariat workforce – that is a working class characterised by ‘precarious work’ – could be that lack of job security increases stress and anxiety for some.

‘The precariat, that concept of “the new vulnerable” in the workplace is important to pay attention to because it is potentially a large cohort of people, says Dr McKenzie.

‘People may feel unsafe, they may feel insecure and like the economy is not ticking along. That plays out in all sorts of ways in politics and society and mental health.’

Dr McKenzie also wonders: ‘If we’re all working in a gig economy, what happens if we don’t have employment contracts and super?’ There’s talk of basic universal income, but we’re yet to know how that might play out.

Similarly, for an aging workforce expected to work into their 70s, Dr McKenzie says we might need to challenge assumptions and paradigms around retirement. People in this age-group might work on a semi-retired basis, they could work as business mentors, or perhaps unpaid roles like childcare and volunteering that this cohort regularly partake in will become financially rewarded roles.

The blurring of work boundaries that means we can potentially work remotely for overseas organisations, could also mean a lot of home-grown jobs are taken offshore.

In 2012, every third adult in OECD countries had a tertiary degree reports CSIRO. ‘That’s a massive cohort of young people coming through with higher education degrees worldwide, and what does that mean if work is more mobile?’ asks Dr McKenzie. Answer: competition for work increases.

How can we prepare for the future workplace?

To make the Australian economy and Australian workers competitive in the future, Dr McKenzie says we need to look at ‘how we can be the best in the world at the different industries we have and make sure we are winning jobs as well.’

Ultimately, Dr McKenzie says it’s less about the pace of digital disruption, and more about how quickly we respond to it. Dr McKenzie asks whether governments and others ‘will choose to be leaders on this or wait to react.’

‘The important point is that it’s not small. If you think about the Great Depression, unemployment was only around 25 per cent and here we’re talking about 44 per cent of jobs at risk.

‘We’re at six per cent unemployment and it doesn’t take a big shift in unemployment for people to really feel the impact. I hope we’ll all be proactive on this one.’

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

 

LBS Alumni Event: The changing nature of work

We are living in a time where businesses are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This often requires entire business process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

Join us as leading expert in the changing nature of work Dr Fiona McKenzie, discusses how business leaders can prepare for the future, and the skills required to take advantage of new opportunities.

About the speaker

Dr Fiona McKenzie, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, Australian Futures Project: Dr Fiona McKenzie is a human geographer with a PhD on innovation and expertise in both public policy and academic research. At the Australian Futures Project, Fiona has led the design and implementation of a range of unique programs, including social innovation labs.

Panel Event

Date: Wednesday 25 October 2017

Time: 5:45pm – Arrival, 6:00pm – Presentation, followed by Q&As, 7:30pm – 8:30pm Networking, canapes and drinks

Venue: La Trobe University City Campus, Level 20, 360 Collins Street, Melbourne

Cost: Free

Register: Please register via the corresponding event page. Please RSVP by Friday 20 October.

Game on: life as an intern with the Melbourne Rebels

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a professional sports game?

La Trobe student John Tran did, and this curiosity led him to an internship with the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Club.

A dream come true

John Tran is in his final year of a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management). As part of this course, students are required to find and complete an internship at a sports club.

When his sports practicum coordinator posted an internship with the Melbourne Rebels on the student noticeboard earlier this year, John, a lifelong sports fan, jumped at the opportunity.

‘I watched a lot of sport as a kid and I always wondered what went on behind the scenes,’ he says.

‘Obviously a lot of people are just focusing on the game, but I’ve learned that there are a lot of things that need to happen for the event to run properly.

‘It’s pretty hectic behind the scenes with everything that needs to be set up and packed down. Among other things, we have to make sure the media are sorted, and that the sponsors’ expectations are being met.

‘As a business, we need to make sure that the sponsors are satisfied with the signage that goes around the stadium and so on.’

While it’s an exciting position for a young sports fan, it’s also a demanding one. Luckily, John was well prepared by his sports practicum coordinator.

‘Before the internship started, we had classes about what to expect, what to do, and how to do it, so that helped a lot. I was also able to put into place a lot of the theory that we learned in sponsorship and events management, two earlier subjects for this course.’

A typical day at the club

In addition to his studies and part-time job, John spends up to three days a week at the club. On a weekday, he’ll be there from 10 am to 5 pm, preparing for game day.

‘We do operational activities, so things like contacting sponsors and making sure they have everything they need,’ he says.

‘We’ve also got to make signs for the locker rooms, so that players know where to go, and signs so officials know where to go, and where to sit, and so on.

‘Then there’s fan activations. For example, there is a Land Rover one where fans come and throw a ball at a target, and we’ve got to make sure that it’s set up in a place where the ball won’t go on the street and is easily collectible. So, I have to use what I’ve learned about OH&S for that!’

This weekday preparation all helps relieve some of the pressure on game days, which are full on. While kick-off is usually in the late evening, John gets to be there behind the scenes much earlier.

‘On game days we’re there from 11 am setting up. We set up, we pack up, we supervise kid’s activities… Timing is critical, so we have our running sheet that says what we need to do and when, and we’re constantly checking things off as we go. It’s a full on, exciting day, and we don’t really get to stop!’

Graduation and beyond

With just one subject to go next semester, the end of John’s degree is well within sight. He hopes his internship with the Melbourne Rebels will be a stepping stone to a graduate position.

‘I think that I will have a lot of connections at the end of this, and I’ve got a lot of experience learning from a professional sports club,’ he says.

John ultimately hopes to use his newfound connections and experience to obtain a job at the end of this year in an events role with a professional club.

‘But just getting the connections and having the experience is the main thing, and this internship has definitely helped me to achieve that.’

Looking to bolster your real-world experience with an internship? Look no further.

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