NSW-based impact investment firm Blue River Group has announced the launch of Project Bridge, a project which will see the development of a commercial dairy farm showcasing Israeli agricultural technology in Wagga Wagga, alongside an agricultural technology hub to help fuel collaboration and innovation.
The commercial farm will see local farmers working with a number Isreali-developed technologies, spanning across cropping, energy, water and waste efficiency, with dairy production tech serving as the main centrepiece.
Blue River Group cofounder, Craig Shapiro, told Startup Daily that the firm discovered Israel as a key space for agricultural innovation after travelling there, and saw its technology as holding direct applications for Australia.
“We noticed that Israel has an amazing agricultural sector and farming spaces despite working in the desert, so we thought what they were doing could be directly applicable to Australia’s agricultural dryland,” said Shapiro.
The dairy sector in particular stood out to Shapiro, as he said Israeli dairy farms currently produce more milk from each cow than any other country in the world.
“We also got exposed to their innovation ecosystem, which we discovered existed because of the collaboration between government, industry and research sector,” said Shapiro.
“We’ve not good at commercialisation or collaboration here in Australia. So we thought what can we do to bring back some of that Israel infrastructure here in Australia and translate that to our culture.”
The Wagga Wagga farm will model Israeli technology to regional Australia, acting as an education centre where visitors are able to get hands-on experience. Shapiro said although Israeli tech is the focus, the farm will look to also showcase other agricultural innovation from around the globe.
“It’s all about creating a sustainable agricultural sector and a real opportunity to try and focus on keeping the next generation of farmers on the land,” explained Shapiro.
“There’s been so much leakage lately, so it’s not about telling regional Australians how to farm, but to get them thinking about how they can turn farming into a business with technology.”
Project Bridge will also see the development of an agricultural and food technology hub to support the development of regional Australian agricultural ideas.
The hub will look bring programs such as accelerators and incubators to the region through key partnerships, although Shapiro said much of the planning is still in the works.
“We’re in the process of signing up a number of corporate partners, universities and professional service firms. The hub really wants to bring regional ideas together to tackle the core issue of collaboration vs competition in Australia,” said Shapiro.
The hub and commercial farm are set to be developed within the next twelve months, according to Shapiro.
Image: Craig Shapiro (Right) & Grant Fuzi (Left). Source: Blue Rivers Group Twitter.