02/04/2019 - 14:13

WA-based agtech startup secures federal grant

02/04/2019 - 14:13

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Agtech startup Laconik has received a federal government grant, the only Western Australian-based business out of 15 across the country to receive a portion of a $5.3 million round of funding.

WA-based agtech startup secures federal grant
Wayne Pluske (left) and Darren Hughes are the co-founders of Laconik.

Agtech startup Laconik has received a federal government grant, the only Western Australian-based business out of 15 across the country to receive a portion of a $5.3 million round of funding.

Laconik was awarded a $383,000 Accelerating Commercialisation grant to commercialise its technology, which combines data science and artificial intelligence to increase the profitability of grain farms and reduce the harmful effects of excessive nitrogen fertiliser leaching into the environment.

The business was founded by Darren Hughes and Wayne Pluske in November 2017.

The technology calculates nitrogen fertiliser rates for small areas, down to a 10th of a hectare, across the thousands of hectares of a typical broadacre farm.

Once crops have been planted, nitrogen fertiliser is the only management option a broadacre farmer has to increase grain yield, which in turn determines profitability.

Laconik’s technology will be made available across approximately 20 trial farms in Australia during the 2019 growing season.

The startup said initial tests in 2018 with agriculture distributor Landmark revealed an average of a 20-fold return on investment to grain farmers.

Mr Hughes and Mr Pluske have over 25 years of combined experience in soil and nutrition consulting for broadacre farmers, and have spent the past three years exploring methods to improve nitrogen fertiliser decision-making.

They are based at The Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation in Nedlands.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the grants were designed to fast-track the development of high-quality projects with local and export market potential that would grow the economy.

“Since the coalition launched the program in 2014, 390 grants worth $192 million have been offered to Australian businesses,” she said.

Successful Accelerating Commercialisation grant applications can receive up to $1 million.

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