Globally, food and agribusiness companies are facing technological disruptions across their operations. The current industry climate is seeing technology rapidly evolving, meaning businesses are increasingly pressured to remain updated or lose market competitiveness. This is particularly important to Australian industry. As other countries continue to innovate, Australia must follow, if not lead, to remain internationally competitive.
The Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum on 15-16 November educated participants on technological disruptions to the food and agribusiness industries, and what they mean for their current and future direction. Hosted by NORTH Link and La Trobe Business School, the two day forum equipped participants with the necessary knowledge to remain internationally competitive.
At La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus, attendees listened to keynote speakers from industry and government, attended panels and took part in masterclasses. These activities exposed attendees to several topics that ranged from changing consumer demands and the power of data analytics to innovative business models and the future of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Attendees were treated to a keynote speaker who has pioneered and innovated in the agribusiness space. Chairman of CANN Group Allan McCallum was involved in the first licensed/permitted growing of medicinal cannabis in Australia. Allan’s success came off the back of several previous agribusinesses he nurtured to global success. His speech made example of and explained how leveraging disruptive technology can elevate a business to an industry leader standard. Despite a period of rapid technological disruption, Allan elevated the CANN group from start-up to an ASX listed company. He explained that, although the business has grown into a world-class supplier to the emerging medical cannabis industry, it was not without major road bumps along the way.
Chief Executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mark Stone, spoke to attendees about the need to continue innovating. On top of being awarded an Order of Australia in 2016, Mark is also a director on the board of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mark spoke about innovation’s never-ending room for improvement, making example of the many challenges faced through technology adoption, international consumer preferences, R&D funding and skill gaps. He highlighted that businesses must always be searching for ways to improve.
Attendees had the option to sign up to one of three masterclasses across the forum. The Data and Analytics for Food and Agribusiness Masterclass discussed how digital technologies and supply chains create opportunities to utilise data for the benefit of industry. The masterclass was facilitated by Associate Professor Kok-Leong Ong, who is the program director for La Trobe Business School’s suite of business analytics courses.
Disruptive Lean Business Model Design was the focus of another Masterclass that gave insight into the exploration and exploitation of disruptive innovation. Participants discovered opportunities that the lean start-up business model can have for start-ups and well established organisations. Dynamic organisations can transform their operation methods, customer solutions and value propositions to achieve growth. Dr Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship at La Trobe Business School, facilitated the masterclass and used his knowledge from more than a decade in executive roles at multinational companies.
Participants at the Industry 4.0 for Agribusiness masterclass were provided with an overview on how advanced technology is transforming agribusinesses. The masterclass contextualised the session by drawing on case studies from small and large organisations. Next generation production equipment and automated tractors were exemplified as ways new technologies are empowering farms now, and will the future. Director and Research Professor at La Trobe’s Centre for Technology, Aniruddha Desai, conducted the masterclass, applying his specialist knowledge in electronics and computer science to proceedings.
Many participants in attendance over the course of the two days expressed optimism for their future industry. By attending several talks from keynote and other speakers, followed by masterclasses and a discussion panel, participants were given a comprehensive overview of the industry’s direction. They gained knowledge of technological disruptions in industry and were also given the skills to assist in applying innovation to their own businesses.
NORTH Link has been funded to deliver a North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub, which will help local businesses understand what data analytics can do for their business. For more information contact NORTH Link Executive Director Chris James, firstname.lastname@example.org.