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Agribusinesses win nod as future leaders

09:31am May 15 2017

Agri-feed company, Bioproton, was among a small group of innovative businesses recognised in Westpac's 200 Business of Tomorrow program. (Supplied)

A handful of innovative agribusinesses have been recognised by Westpac’s 200 Businesses of Tomorrow program, headlined by Brisbane-based agri-feed company Bioproton Pty Ltd.

Bioproton, a biotechnology company committed to developing, manufacturing and marketing high-quality animal feed supplements, was one of only 20 “high-potential” businesses and will receive mentorship from Leslie Chong, chief executive of Australian biopharmaceutical company Imugene. Overall, 200 businesses were recognised based on their purpose, contribution to customers and the community, strength of character and vision for the future.

“Bioproton started as a one-person operation but now has 15 employees, a dedicated laboratory, factory and bioprocess facility in Brisbane, and we export to over 40 countries,” says Bioproton’s technical manager, Juhani von Hellens.

“Bioproton is developing a new generation of feed enzymes to have improved characteristics, such as improved shelf life and stability, leading to better outcomes.

“The enzymes we use in our business are all found in nature, however some are more efficient than others. There are trillions of enzymes in the world, so finding the right one is like finding a needle in a haystack.

“In order to find the right enzymes for our purposes, we undertake a stringent screening process. Nowadays, powerful high-throughput screening technologies are available, which allow us to search and discover the most-efficient enzymes from nature.

The majority of Bioproton’s customers are in pork and poultry, although the company also produces feed suited to ruminant animals. It collaborates closely with The University of Queensland and The Queensland University of Technology, sponsoring students and PhD candidates to work on joint research projects.

David Lindberg, a Businesses of Tomorrow Judge and group executive of Westpac’s business bank, said: “Bioproton has a clear purpose and vision—to be a world-class biotechnology company in a huge growth sector. Having demonstrated their ability to reboot the business, the team at Bioproton have identified significant opportunities for expansion into new markets. Bioproton’s willingness to reinvest 20 per cent of sales into research and development, and collaborate with universities, demonstrates the business’ strong commitment to be successful beyond tomorrow.”

Other agribusinesses in the top 200

Expert 365 Pty Ltd
Founded in late 2015, Expert 365 provides internet solutions for Australian horticulture farms, with precision agriculture solutions and emerging technologies being increasingly relied on over the traditional farm-based experience. Expert 365 provides app-assisted advanced irrigation solutions to help address questions about required water quantities for healthy yields, and optimal controlled irrigation of that water. Soil sensors provide data on soil moisture, conductivity and temperature, and feed algorithms that determine irrigation needs. Generating farmer awareness of precision irrigation can reduce water consumption for vegetable and fruit markets in the near term, and ultimately for broadacre farming, as the technology extends and research with local and international universities progresses.

ICT International Pty Ltd
Originally structured as an import organisation, ICT International transitioned into a successful regional NSW-based export manufacturing business. Driven by a desire to help individuals and companies use water more efficiently in agriculture and the natural environment, ICT International designs, manufactures and exports state-of-the-art, unique scientific instruments to 51 countries, and was one of the first to take advantage of the demand for plug-and-play instrumentation and wireless technologies. Its instruments enable customers to quantify plant water use as well as factors affecting the soil, plant and atmosphere. Beyond precision agriculture needs, ICT International’s focus has enabled researchers to measure the impacts of climate change on vegetation and landscapes globally.

Productivity growth in agriculture has stagnated for decades. Digital technologies are key to unlocking the next wave of improvements. Terrapix has an aerial multi-spectral imagery service, and has developed software to help farmers and producers undertake crop performance analysis either in the office or in the field. The Pixel Farm Crop Analyser enables users to monitor crops using data from any remote-sensing platform that has red or near-infrared bands, from anywhere in the world. It enhances productivity by allowing users to make on-ground cropping decisions faster and more effectively. Terrapix has pioneered the use of Hexagon Geospatial development software and, in association with existing Tasmanian customers, expects to build additional applications for the agricultural sector.

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The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the Westpac Group.

An editor and writer by trade, Leanne has a knack for telling great stories from unique perspectives. Having worked across corporate, trade, travel and lifestyle brands, she's been the editor of Westpac Agribusiness' magazine Produce for the past four years and is now full of fun facts about Australian agriculture. When she's not tapping out cracking copy or commissioning killer content, she escapes to Borneo where she "works" as a scuba diver guiding tourists to see pygmy seahorses, painted frogfish and giant green turtles.

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