Winner announced for Westpac Agribusiness Innovation Challenge

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The second round of the Westpac Innovation Challenge, this time focussing on agribusiness, was a raging success.  We received just over 130 impressive applications from every state in Australia, and the range of ideas was tremendous.

Agribusiness itself is very broad and to give you an idea of the types of applications we received, we broke the applications down by the industry category and also by the type of technology.



Last week the top five finalists pitched innovative ideas for how Westpac can use technology solutions to help their agribusiness customers. The finalists presented unique angles for how technology could revitalise and reimagine Australia’s agribusiness industry.

The competition awarded $40,000 to Ella Shannon for AgTasker, an online job marketplace for farming businesses. She nailed a very real problem for farmers in need of quality casual labour that scales with the seasons, and will give casual farm workers the tools to find employment efficiently.

Winner_AgTasker Cheque
From left to right: Ian Hill (Head of Innovation), Ella Shannon (Agtasker), David Lindberg (Chief Executive, Commercial and Business Banking) and Stephen Hannan (National Manager Agribusiness Commercial Banking)


Bertram Ostendorf and his team from the University of Adelaide won the People’s Choice award for their “Drones for Grapevines” idea for early detection of viruses in individual grapevines.

Sally Hayes of the Australian Pastoral Group won the draw for an Apple iWatch by voting for her favourite startup in the People’s Choice Award.

Finalists Networking
People’s Choice winner Betram Ostendorf (Drones for Grapevines) on the left and finalist David Rubie (Smart Shepherd) meeting VIPs from the agribusiness industry at the pitch event.

The five finalists spent two weeks working on their business strategy and competition pitch with the startup advisors at BlueChilli before pitching to the judging panel and invited VIPs from the agribusiness industry. We came to love all the founders and their business ideas – there is a massive opportunity for innovation in agribusiness in Australia.

Opening remarks by Kalpana Gee, Head of Digital at Westpac about the importance of supporting innovation
Opening remarks by Kalpana Gee, Head of Digital at Westpac about the importance of supporting innovation

In addition to the $40,000, the winner also receives a 6 month placement in the BlueChilli 156 Accelerator program. Ella will be taking up her six month placement with BlueChilli next week, and we’re very excited to be working with such a bright and motivated entrepreneur on this important startup.

Westpac Agribusiness Innovation Challenge 2015 Pitch Night from BlueChilli on Vimeo.