SproutX brokers deal with Argentina

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Local AgTech innovation hub SproutX has landed a deal with Latin America-based early venture capital fund NXTP Labs to launch a passport exchange program, for Australian and Latin American start-ups to visit each other’s countries and cross-pollinate ideas.

Launched this week by the Argentine vice-minister for agriculture in Sydney, the AgtechPassport program comes after weeks of collaboration between the Argentine government, Austrade, Qantas and Australia Unlimited.

SproutX boss Sam Trethewey said the program was the first of its kind in Australia.

“This isn’t window dressing; it’s the start of a wonderful relationship we’ve got here,” he told The Australian.

“This is the potential to be a serious exchange for our agriculture start-ups that are building customers and revenue.”

According to Mr Trethewey, a former farmer, Australian start-ups wanting to head to Argentina as part of the program can expect to get exposure to a productive agricultural economy, one full of early adopters through both the supply chain and on the farm.

“Their adoption of tech is considered to be superior to that of Australia’s,” he said.

“Contractors in Argentina are putting the latest tech in their tractors and they’re very quick on the uptake, and putting huge amounts of data into their farms or their client’s farms. We can learn a lot from that.”

He said SproutX and NXTP Labs will facilitate meetings ­between the start-up teams and potential partners in the host country, to build their networks and gain insights into their commercial viability on a global scale. The start-ups will also gain access to co-working spaces aligned with SproutX and NXTP Labs around Australia, Latin America, New Zealand, Israel and the US.

Just as it is in Australia, agriculture is a key plank of Argentina’s economy, accounting for 11.4 per cent of GDP. Farm production is forecast to increase there by 8.3 per cent to a record $63.8 billion in 2016-17.

Argentina’s secretary of agriculture, Ricardo Negri, told The Australian he got a lot out of his Sydney meeting with Mr Trethewey and others.

“There are many opportunities we believe to be possible in the short term from Australian companies and Argentinian companies working together,” he said.

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