Westpac Innovation Challenge

From Mining Boom to Dining Boom


Winners announced in the Westpac Innovation in Agribusiness Challenge

The response and passion from the start-up community for the second Westpac Innovation Challenge has been phenomenal. We received more than 130 impressive applications from every state in Australia, and the top five ideas have shown us revolutionary ways in which Westpac can use new and innovative solutions to help their agribusiness customers. Ideas ranged from livestock management to drones, each with a different take on how technology can revitalise and reimagine Australia’s agribusiness industry.

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.  After tough deliberation, the winners were selected.

Challenge Winner

Ella Shannon – Agtasker

Finding labour fit for all range of casual farming jobs has always been a major problem in Agriculture and one that is holding back the productivity of our industry. AgTasker is an online job marketplace for farming businesses. We help farmers tender jobs to an extended network of short term labour in a quick, transparent and cost effective way. Farmers drive the recruitment process by reviewing profiles to choose the right person for the job.

Ella Shannon has extensive experience in Agriculture having worked across the industry from farming to funding. AgTasker has a strong suite of advisors bringing a wealth of knowledge from family and corporate farming, sales and marketing, recruitment and funds management.

People’s Choice Winner

Bertram Ostendorf – Drones for Grapevines

Currently, virus detection for viticulture is a lab-based process costing $100 per grapevine. Our technology uses a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also called drones) , optical instruments and biochemistry to allow early detection of virus infections of individual grapevines at scales of square kilometres in order to prevent yield loss and disease spread.

We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers from agriculture, environmental, and spatial disciplines working together on the Waite Campus of Adelaide University. Recent advancements in fields are allowing us to combines our state-of-the-art knowledge of biochemical conditions in plant leaves, how viruses alter these and how this can be optically sensed to build a detection system for virus infected grapevines that is much faster and more effective.

With the decreasing size and cost of drones and their increased use in land management, the timing is perfect to take our innovative solution to market.

Runners Up

Cameron Clark – FarmChem

The NSW Dairy Innovation group questions current farm practices and debates ideas associated with increasing resource use efficiency through investigating opportunities in current, emerging or potential technology.

We’ve discovered that farmers need help tracking and managing the chemicals on their properties. Farmers purchase herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals but currently have very poor manual methods of recording use by dates and usage amounts. There is also a lack of individualised advice in determining best practice for use or timing of application.

Our app scans the purchased chemical drum barcode, automatically displays and provides warning related to the use by, collates the amount of chemical used and is linked to product safety, weather data related to best practice application. The app also facilitates easy and timely repurchase of chemicals that are running out.

This business idea was generated by the potential market. ‘FarmChem’ removes the manual process of data entry, automatically collates data on use, reduces on-farm risk benefiting farmer health (insurance benefit).


David Gregory – Livestock Connect

Growing up on a property in rural NSW. I attended an agricultural high-school before going on to study business and specifically eCommerce.

We’re developing an online marketplace for the livestock industry, which enables farmers to connect with livestock agents and abattoirs for live, up to date pricing and availability when selling their stock. This significantly improves the current sales process, which is still relying on a weekly or monthly price list, that is distributed via fax or email from every individual abattoir.

Seeing how needlessly difficult and slow the sales process was, inspired me to create a new solution. In a networked world, it made perfect sense to take livestock sales online.

Combining live pricing, availability, transportation and sales feedback into a simple online framework, addresses a significant hole in the current marketplace. It ultimately saves time, money and increases yields.




David Rubie – Smart Shepherd

Smart Shepherd was born from a chance meeting of its co-founders at a technical conference. David Rubie has been working in genetics for the last 10 years with a high profile amongst sheep stud service providers. Glenn Vassallo is an IoT (Internet of Things) and smart devices thought leader. They realised their different areas of expertise could combine to create a livestock monitoring system to overcome the current cost and logistical challenges of individual animal monitoring.

Smart Shepherd extends the Internet of Things to livestock. The Smart Shepherd connected monitoring system will be less intrusive, cheaper and lead into new areas of animal welfare research. It will dramatically reduce stock losses and increase genetic performance in the livestock industry.

Read more about the Westpac Innovation Challenge in Agribusiness here

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