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Start-ups to help Australia move from mining boom to dining boom


06 May 2015

Westpac is calling on start-ups and agribusiness entrepreneurs to develop new ideas to revolutionise Australia’s agricultural sector as part of the ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’.

A $40,000 prize will be awarded to the entrepreneur that creates the most useful and innovative digital solution for Westpac’s agribusiness customers. The winner will also receive a six-month placement in our partner BlueChilli’s start-up accelerator program, offering potential for further investment opportunities with the company.

The agribusiness themed round of the Challenge was announced by Westpac National Agribusiness Manager, Stephen Hannan, today at the Westpac and Future Farmers Network event in Rockhampton held during ‘Beef Week 2015’.

Australia’s agricultural industry is the backbone of this country and Westpac proudly supports our customers living and working in rural and regional Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012-13 the gross value of total Australian agricultural production was $48.0 billion, an increase of 3 per cent from 2011-12.

Mr Hannan said he hoped the ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’ would uncover ideas to transform the lives and businesses of farmers and the communities that support them.

“Our customers have told me their biggest focus is ensuring the long-term sustainability of their businesses and the primary industries they work in. We want to connect our agribusiness customers with new and innovative solutions that tackle some of their biggest concerns – new ways to improve productivity, lower costs, foster sustainable farming and manage market fluctuations,” Mr Hannan said.

The ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’ brings to life the bank’s strategic focus on delivering innovative products and services to its customers.

“Our customers’ service expectations are higher than ever. They expect us to keep up with their evolving needs. By investing in innovation, both within our business and in partnership with organisations such as BlueChilli, we are able to rapidly develop new ideas that will add substantial value to our customers,” said Westpac Group Head of Innovation, Ian Hill.

“I encourage any start-up with innovative ideas to help our farmers to enter the Challenge. We are looking for leading edge, future-ready ideas. No idea is too big or too small.”

BlueChilli founder and CEO, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, said the ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’ was a great opportunity to advance the development of new business services in the marketplace.

“In addition to targeting traditional technology start-ups, we are hoping to engage entrepreneurs in research, academia and the environmental, sustainability and engineering communities with ideas to leverage digital technology in smart ways to grow agribusiness in Australia.

The ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’ is open to Australian residents who either have an existing early-stage venture or a new concept that can help Westpac’s agribusiness customers prosper and grow.

Today’s announcement follows the successful inaugural round of the ‘Westpac Innovation Challenge’ held between September and November last year which focused on real estate. After receiving more than 100 applications, five finalists were selected to present their business pitches to Westpac and BlueChilli at an event in Sydney in November. The winner of the inaugural round – Josh Rowe CEO of realAs - used the $40,000 prize money to develop a new realAs mobile app for Android. Having benefitted from BlueChilli's start-up accelerator program, Mr Rowe is now working with Westpac on initiatives that leverage the realAs sales prediction tool for the benefit of Westpac customers.

Applications for this round open on Tuesday 23 June and close on Sunday 2 August 2015.