Cicada Innovations – 23rd August 2018

Went to Sydney for the Cicada Innovations GrowLab Pitch Night on Thursday and what a great night it was! Some terrific innovations and, as Petra Andren the CEO, told me they’re all solid science based projects. There’s plenty of app based innovation around but when it comes to actually making things that’s pretty thin on the ground. A lot of the crop (or flock as Duncan Veal from MLA prefers!) are making things so kudos to them.

George Peppou introduces the night

GrowLab’s second crop: (Courtesy of Cicada, with my take)


Sustinent creates solutions to enable commodity-scale farming of insects so they can be transformed into high-value products. And by raising insects intensively using vertical farming principles, Sustinent needs little land or water and can harvest all year round.

My Take: Insects are one of the big alternative protein sectors to watch. Conversion rates from feedstock are very good and they consume less space when stacked vertically. 2 bn people already eat insects and Western societies just need to get over the “ick” factor. We did it in a decade or less with sushi, so don’t think it can’t happen!



Carapac is a plastic alternative for fresh food packaging that is sustainable, durable and compostable. Carapac’s unique material is made from crustacean shell waste. It works just as well as any traditional plastic to meet your packaging and transport needs, it’s just environmentally friendly on top of it all.

My Take: They’re in the right place at the right time with “The War on Waste” and plastic bags being phased out. They’ve got several alternative raw materials and connections with Woolworth so what’s not to like?


InvertiGro designs, builds, supplies and supports cost-effective and flexible indoor vertical farming solutions that enable customers around the globe to quickly convert indoor spaces into highly efficient rural-scale farms capable of growing a variety of different crops; from leafy greens to micro greens, berries, fruits, vegetables and more.

My Take: All in one, very adaptable and doesn’t need specialized facilities. If you’ve got a spare pallet sized space and power you can grow crops! Could be great for anywhere that has high transport costs for fresh produce and countries with no cropland. (like Dubai)


Bitwoke has developed embedded machine learning software for IoT devices so you can trust, analyse and use sensor data anywhere in real-time safely and securely. Post farm-gate real-time analytics and alerts anywhere – farm, truck or sea. Bitwoke provides active risk detection and response for livestock and produce.

My Take: Helps farmers become more competitive and cost efficient, less of a game changer than some of the other concepts.

Moisture Planting Technologies 

Moisture Planting Technologies helps farmers plant seeds in the optimal location for soil conditions and moisture profile. With soil profiling and press wheel adjustment farmers can further control the soil coverage of their seeds.

My Take: With changing climate this could ha ve more impact than first appears. As farming land changes it’s characteristics this will help cope with these changes by optimising planting under new, unknown, conditions.


AreaCrop is a novel, soil moisture monitoring system, that provides farmers with an up to date view of the moisture in their paddock at a fine scale.

My Take: We need to optimise our current agricultural practices if we’re to feed 10 bn by 2050. Moisture is obviously a key factor and minimising water usage whilst maximising yields is essential. This innovation will help achieve these goals.

Can’t wait for crop (or flock) 3!