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Sprout seeks startups hunting for future financial harvest

Problems need solutions.

It’s a simple, tried-and-true formula for businesses. Identify a problem, and offer a solution to that problem.

That’s the main idea companies wishing to take part in Sprout’s agritech business innovation accelerator need to keep in mind when applying to take part in the programme in the hopes their ideas might take root. “The biggest thing is being able to articulate the problem and the solution,” explains Sprout business strategy advisor Stu Bradbury. “The key is knowing how to solve a problem they’ve experienced or know someone having that problem.”

But once a company knows what the problem is that they’re trying to solve, then Sprout could be an attractive accelerator to get involved with. Bradbury says it’s because of the involvement of some of New Zealand’s largest companies and organisations – like BNZ, Callaghan Innovation, KPMG, Air New Zealand and Massey University – and partners like Fonterra that a large professional network with some of the agritech industry’s best minds can be accessed by participants. “Their support has been huge,” he says.

Agritech is also having a “moment” now, Bradbury claims. Long stereotyped as an industry where change was slow to come, with businesses preferring products and techniques that had been proven to work because they had been around for decades if not longer, such an image is simply not true, he says. “Globally, people are looking at agritech as one of the ‘new kids on the block,’ one of the next big things. It absolutely could be the next Silicon Valley [here in New Zealand].”

That’s a bold statement, but for companies that make it into the programme, one could argue they’d certainly be getting a leg up in becoming the Next Big Thing. Startups that are accepted into the Sprout programme receive a cash investment of $25,000, expert training and mentorship in all areas of business growth, access to a national and international investor group, and the opportunity to raise between $100,000 and $1 million of capital at the Sprout company showcase. Those are some pretty serious perks no matter how you look at it.

Anyone with an idea for agriculture can apply online for Sprout’s accelerator. They better plant their ideas, quick, though – applications close on 31 August.

After that, the Sprout team will sit down and determine which ideas could get a chance to, well, sprout.

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