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State-wide pilot program champions agtech in Armidale

The New England region is set to become a hub for the growing ag-tech sector thanks to the NSW Government’s Agtech Cluster initiative, launched by Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall in Armidale today.

Mr Marshall said Armidale had built a reputation as a centre for high-quality research and development thanks to innovative local businesses and efforts from the University of New England, including the Smart Farm and Smart Region Incubator.

“Armidale’s selection as one of three pilot clusters to be developed in NSW will help build a strong agtech sector in our area, and in turn spur rural innovation and create jobs for the future,” Mr Marshall said.

“When similarly minded businesses work in close proximity with one another – it’s not only more efficient, but leads to greater productivity and improved working life compared to entrepreneurs going it alone.

“Internationally, we see the growth of industrial centres like Silicon Valley or Hollywood – where resources and skills are shared to everyone’s benefit. Armidale’s industrial cluster will bring together the best and brightest agtech pioneers, making our patch the centre of development for technology in agriculture.

“Our new ‘Cluster Champion’ Chris Celovic will work to bring small and medium sized businesses to the region, as well as forging links between global companies and entrepreneurs.

“The Cluster will work across research, ideas development, commercialisation and education, helping to grow networks and idea sharing, investment and global relationships.

“This development will not only bring jobs, skills and industry to Armidale – but help keep Australia on the forefront of innovative agricultural technology. Our ultimate goal is to help create the next billion dollar agtech company in our backyard.”

Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro said the Armidale Agtech Cluster would bring together businesses, industry, educational institutions and government to boost business and grow jobs in the area.

“The Armidale cluster is an initiative of the NSW Government-backed Jobs for NSW and part of a broader pilot cluster program to create jobs, drive innovation and build a stronger entrepreneurial culture across NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The Jobs for the Future report, commissioned by Jobs for NSW, found geographic business clusters offer greater access to knowledge, infrastructure, investment and talent with NSW clusters accounting for more than 26 per cent of recent jobs growth.

“High-performing clusters grow jobs at more than double the state average, create higher paying jobs, are twice as likely to export and generate more innovation, and have small businesses that are 21 per cent more likely to survive.”

The cluster program will run from mid-2017 to mid-2019, when the NSW Government will review it in hopes of expansion of the program.