News: New innovation challenge to tackle big issue in horticulture  

Attention innovators – applications for Agtech and Logistic Hub’s much anticipated second Open Innovation Challenge are now open. 

The Hub – in conjunction with UQ, USQ, FKG Group, Telstra, TSBE and Advance Queensland – is running the challenge to identify how inorganic waste can be reduced in the horticulture industry.  

This includes plastic, a huge contributor of waste with statistics showing that Australian agriculture consumes approximately 90,000 tonnes of it each year with only seven per cent recycled.  

While sustainability is a big focus for the sector, the reality is that Australian producers have few affordable and viable alternatives to heavy use of plastics on-farm and to single-use plastics in consumer packaging. 

AgTech and Logistics Hub Director Thomas Hall said the need to reduce inorganic waste, particularly plastics, in Australian horticulture was a burning issue. 

“A priority for the sector right now is finding alternatives to the use and management of plastics across its supply chains,” Mr Hall said. 

“We need alternatives that stack up commercially – these alternatives need to benefit producers and increase investor and consumer confidence while reducing negative environmental impacts. 

“It’s an urgent need, with consumers increasingly not wanting to use single-use plastics and governments across the country looking at opportunities to reduce and phase out single-use plastics.” 

AgTech and Logistics Hub wants to hear from industry, researchers, problem-owners, solution-providers and vendors, agribusinesses and innovators that can provide solutions that will bring down the amount of plastic and other inorganic waste used in horticulture.  

The challenge is beneficial for early-stage start-ups and scale-ups seeking support to grow and access customers and connect with industry partners to further validate their innovations. It is also beneficial for suppliers with in-market products or services relevant to the challenge, and those involved in plastic innovation related research projects. 

To put it simply, those who believe they have solutions to: 

  • avoid or treat inorganic waste inputs,  
  • decrease the use of single use-plastics; or  
  • turn inorganic waste into valuable resources, should apply! 

Applicants who are successful will enjoy access to the Agtech and Logistics Hub, including a mentor network, plus support in product validation, investment readiness support and more.  

The Open Innovation Challenge ends with a ‘challenge showcase’ and forum in August where those identified as having the solutions with the best potential will be invited to present to the challenge stakeholders including producers, industry participants and government.  

Applications for the challenge close on 1 July, with assessment and offers made from 4-15 July. 

To apply, or for more information, click here

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