MILAN URUGUAY AND CANADA - GLOBAL AGRIFOOD INSIGHTS

Insights from Bridge Hub Co-Founder and Israel CEO Ethy Levy

Last month I had the privilege to visit three very different countries and get exposed to their startup eco-systems - with a focus on the Agrifood tech space.

Italy, Milan: Seeds & Chips

What a more natural place to talk Agri and food than Italy! The home of pasta, pizza, mozzarella and many other of our favorite foods. I loved the way Italians conduct business - first eat, then talk business. Long meals with lots of food and drinks and then, maybe, some practical discussion. Naturally, amongst their most brilliant startups you could find solutions for keeping the pizza hot during the delivery, products made of waste of milk and many other smart ideas based on their food culture.

Seeds & Chips was a great venue to meet with leaders from the European Agrifood eco-system but not only - in attendance were executives from Nestle, Mars, Mondelez, Coca Cola, ....

For the startups attending and presenting it gave them a great exposure to leading players and investors. A number of countries had a national pavilion and it was great to see the Australian pavilion! It is crucial for Australia to position itself as an important player in the Agrifood space and global exposure is the key to that.

On one hand the startups attending got access to leading market players that are usually very hard to reach and on the other hand it gave them the opportunity to benchmark their solution with others that are on the market, pushing them to raise the bar of their offering.

Overall Seeds and Chips was a worthwhile conference, as said before, especially for the networking opportunities. We are looking forward to the Melbourne event in September.

I was part of the Australian delegation organised by Austrade who did an great job in putting together a rich program, including field visits and networking events.

Uruguay

A small country indeed, Uruguay is a logistic hub for the whole region and is enjoying a strong and stable economy with a GDP way above its neighbors.

Discussing with their government innovation and support of R&D I realised how fortunate Israel and Australia were - the whole budget for research and commercialisation and support of startups of Uruguay is about $40M. In Israel, just the commercial R&D and support to startups enjoys a $400M budget.

The startup eco-system in Uruguay is on an interesting journey with some very interesting hubs and incubators that are doing an excellent job. Still, the number of startups is small and very locally focused. I met some amazing entrepreneurs and heard great pitches that created a real interest in connecting some of those initiatives with startups in Australia and in Israel in order to leverage this collective ingenuity and create a much better outcome that would be globally relevant from day one.

In Uruguay I was the guest of the IDBLabs - the innovation arm of the Inter American Development Bank - a client of the Bridge Hub.

Ken Ash OECD, Ethan Brown Beyond Meat, Claudia Roessler Microsoft, Florian Schattenmann Cargill and Ethy Levy Bridge Hub at the International Forum of the Americas in Montreal - Canada

Ken Ash OECD, Ethan Brown Beyond Meat, Claudia Roessler Microsoft, Florian Schattenmann Cargill and Ethy Levy Bridge Hub at the International Forum of the Americas in Montreal - Canada

Canada

My third visit on the global eco-system tour was Canada. Starting with Calgary where I attended Inventures2019 - “the” tech and innovation event of the ALBERTA State.

The conference took place over three days with a broad range of topics and speakers. My key learnings from this event was that Canada is a powerhouse in AI - Artificial Intelligence and has lots of similarities with Australia. I was invited to speak in a panel on Agtech and was thrilled to see a room packed with entrepreneurs, investors and researchers. Agtech was one of the key topics of the conference and a substantial number of startups in that space presented, including the Australian company AgriDigital.

Inventures brought outstanding speakers such as Prof Daniel Kraft from Singularity University who gave a keynote on medical technologies and how they are changing our lives.

Canada suffers from the same symptoms as Australia - a Federal government with States that are competing with each other instead of conquering the world together and startups that are focused on the local market and forget to benchmark their solution with global competition.

Canadians are really as nice as perceived and this is a place I will certainly go back to!


My tour of these three eco-systems reinforced my belief that Bridge Hub is a necessity. We have to connect globally if we want to make a real change. We need to share knowledge - challenges and solutions, collaborate in research but also in commercial ventures and look for areas where we could complement each other.

Dianna Somerville