Seeding our next “Crop”

GrowLab is set for a new “crop” of agrifoodtech startups in 2018. Applications are open now until 26 April with the program running between May 24 and August 16 in Sydney at Australia’s leading deep tech incubator, Cicada Innovations.

It’s fair to say that our inaugural program that ran between September and December last year exceeded our expectations (special thanks to Tristonne Forbes and Sarah Nolet for all your help!) and even attracted founders who travelled from the US and Israel to be part of the first crop.

Since completing the program, over $2m has been raised by GrowLab startups including these highlights:

  • FluroSat raised $1m from Main Sequence Ventures and Airtree Ventures with another $500k in grants
  • Swagbot has been awarded a $500k grant on top of the multimillion dollar research program at the University of Sydney
  • Livestock Labs raised a pre-seed round of US$200k from a strategic investor and $375k in grants

Flurosat and Livestock Labs have both been accepted into Cicada’s incubator post program where they’re enjoying continued support and space alongside some of Australia’s best and brightest deep tech innovators.

We’ve been able to build GrowLab’s success off the back of the valuable industry backing from MLA Donor Company, broad support from a highly engaged industry community through which we’ve received really encouraging feedback across the board. In short, it felt like we were doing things right.

But there were areas that we knew we could do better.

So we have a number of big changes installed for the 2018 crop vintage which we’re excited to share.

Putting our money where our mouth is 🤑

We all know how important cash is for any business and it’s no different for early-stage tech startups. Along with a founder’s sweat, the first money into a business acts as that very special rocket fuel to launch a business.

So we’ve decided to level up. From our next crop, GrowLab will be investing $30k cash for 5% equity in each startup valuing each of the companies at $600k at the time of joining GrowLab.

We’ll still be including all the good stuff from our partners like AWS, Google, SalesForce, Hubspot and Stripe that we know are so valued by startups along with free co-working space at our Accelerator Hub for six months, access to wet labs and hardware space.

Mentors expand the learning surface area

A vital ingredient for developing successful early-stage startup CEOs and founders is accessing insights, experience and networks to guide them on decision making and open new opportunities. Getting the right advice and perspectives can be the difference between being just good and great.

For the most successful technology accelerators, mentors form an important part of the proposition. They expand the learning surface area for founders by providing additional and multiple angles of knowledge and networks beyond any one program management team can.

So we’ve decided to pull together the best group of mentors for GrowLab founders. Through our networks and relationships, we’ve had the good fortune of bringing together a world-class group of professionals and players from the Australian agrifoodtech ecosystem. This group includes industry experts, investors and business builders which we’ll be announcing very soon.

Structured regional and international visits to customer and tech hotspots

We learnt from our first program what worked and what didn’t and getting founders closer to customers was a clear area of improvement. With our next program, we’ll be increasing our customer visits through structured visits to at least four different regional centres across Australia. This will give the teams a chance to get to grips with different agriculture and food systems as well as getting out of the building to speak to customers.

Tech founders don’t operate in a vacuum and almost always are competing in a global market. That’s why we think it’s so important to bring our founders to the US to get a feel for what’s happening in agrifoodtech globally and expose the founders to what is the largest and most important agrifood market, early.

Applications open already and Roadtrip!

We’re open to applications on Angelist right now, so if you’re a founder looking to impact our agrifood system and feed a growing world, make sure you get your application in before Thursday April 26 when applications close.

We’ll be on the road later in April running information sessions across the country. Come along to find out more, ask questions you might have or hear answers to questions from others. There’s also a limited number of time slots available for founders to meet us over a coffee when we’re in town so get in touch via

Wednesday April 11 — RSVP for Sydney at Cicada Innovations

Monday April 16 — Armidale

Tuesday 6pm April 17 — RSVP for Brisbane at Fishburners

Wednesday April 18 — Canberra

Thursday 4pm April 19 — RSVP for Adelaide at ThincLab

Friday April 20 — Melbourne

For more info on the roadshow and GrowLab follow GrowLab on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Cicada Innovations

Australia's Home of Deep Tech.

George Peppou

Written by

Cicada Innovations GrowLab agrifood accelerator Program Manager | Design Innovation PhD Candidate @ USyd | Startup Mentor

Cicada Innovations

Australia's Home of Deep Tech.