Insights from Bridge Hub Founder and Co-CEO Craig Shapiro

Last month I was fortunate to join the Austrade Agtech Mission to the USA. We had an incredible two-week trip which included a week in California & a frenetic week in the Midwest visiting five cities in five days! There were so many learnings from the trip as well as multiple new connections and potential business opportunities. Many thanks to the Austrade team for putting together a fantastic agenda and a great group of fellow travelers!

Over the next few weeks, I thought I would provide some short insights into my observations and learnings from the visit.


Insight #1 April 11 2019

 The week in California kicked off in San Francisco with the World Agritech Summit. The Summit opened with an address from Astro Teller, the CEO of Moonshots at X which is an ideas incubator. So what exactly is a Moonshot? Well its Astro’s catch phrase for crazy ideas! It’s the point of intersection between a huge problem, a radical solution and breakthrough technology. Astro asked us to think about what are we going to do differently? How are we going to think differently? He told us we should surf the wave rather than getting swamped by the wave of change.

In the context of Agritech he asked what if we could manage the plant, not the plot? What if we could breed crops 10x faster and 10x cheaper? What if we could farm without using harmful chemicals? What if we try and fail?

 Astro suggested we should all be ok to walk away from ideas that don’t work but we need to be posing these hard questions in order to actually find the Moonshot that succeeds. He told us that its critical to embrace failure as a learning and use it to move on to the next Moonshot.

 Astro’s Moonshot concept resonated strongly. We constantly think about crazy ideas at the Bridge Hub. There’s no such thing as a bad idea in our view. We also think that global connectivity is a critical component in helping to find the Moonshot point of intersection when solving the problems faced by the agrifood sector. The agrifood sector is complex and the best solutions will only be found through strong collaboration across the globe. 

 Much of what Astro described is how the Israeli innovation ecosystem works in practice. This is why the Bridge Hub’s first deep global connection is with Israel. Whilst Australia is the head office of Bridge Hub, being connected to the world’s leading innovation ecosystems will help us convert our crazy ideas and Moonshots into commercial reality. We are about to host a boot camp in Israel for six Australian Agrifood tech founders in partnership with Austrade and their Landing Pad in Tel Aviv. Ten days of intense exposure to the excitement and energy of the Israeli innovation scene which will demonstrate why it has become known as the Start Up Nation!

Tomorrow morning Sydney time, Israel will attempt to become the fourth nation in the world to land a space vehicle on the moon. I guess you could say this is Israel’s version of a “Moonshot”! Maybe they took the saying perhaps a little more literally than what we all might be aspiring to do in the agrifood tech sector, but it shows that anything is possible! 

Dianna Somerville