When we chose to focus on agribusiness for this round of the Westpac Innovation Challenge, I admit I was a touch nervous. We’ve been sticking seeds in the dirt and collecting animals in our communities for centuries without deviating too far from the original methods. Sure, the opportunity for innovation in agribusiness is huge — it includes all businesses that affect how food is grown, processed, and distributed.

But was there really enough innovative tech startup ideas in Australia to run a startup competition in agribusiness? Were we really ready to go from mining boom to dining boom?

Short answer: yes. Looks like Australian entrepreneurs are looking beyond consumer and mining sectors and finding interesting ways to apply new technologies to the agribusiness sector.

Even more interesting are those ideas that take existing technologies like iBeacons, drones and the humble online marketplace and transform them into exciting and meaningful concepts that can make a massive difference in the agriculture industry and its supporting services.

Tasmania over-represented, Queensland less so

Submissions have been received from every state, and we’ve been most surprised by the number of submissions from Tasmania. Given that the state only has 2% of the population, it’s exciting to see that 10% of the submissions are from there. On the flip side, Queensland is trailing behind with only 6% of the submitted ideas coming from the sunshine state. So let’s hope for a cold snap this week to encourage Queenslanders to head indoors to the comfort of a computer screen.

What it’s like to be selected as a finalist

Although the $40,000 cash prize will only be awarded to one winner, participating in the competition has lasting benefits for all finalists. Last year’s finalists in BlueChilli’s Westpac Innovation Challenge, which focussed on the real estate sector, received two weeks of intensive business strategy and pitch coaching from BlueChilli prior to the event. In just two weeks they went from just having an idea, to being competition ready, to pitch on stage and be grilled by the judging panel. Four of the five finalists now have their businesses up and running just six months afterwards.

Do you have a great idea?

If you have an idea for how digital innovation can create new value in the agribusiness sector, then this is the final call to jump on board. No idea is too big or small – take a look at the competition details and apply by this Sunday, 2 August.