MICHAEL MACOLINO

MANAGING DIRECTOR, APAC, SVG VENTURES THRIVE

THOUGHT

Leader

AN INNOVATOR OF INDUSTRY
“COLLABORATION IS CRUCIAL TO TACKLE THE CHALLENGES FACING OUR FOOD SYSTEM, ENSURING THAT AGRIFOOD TECH IS DEPLOYED RESPONSIBLY AND SUSTAINABLY.” – MICHAEL MACOLINO, MANAGING DIRECTOR, APAC, SVG VENTURES THRIVE

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As an entrepreneur, I have always been passionate about leveraging technology to enhance efficiency across various industries Michael Macolino, Managing Director SVG Ventures Thrive (APAC), Ex-Startup Founder & CTO, Focused on AgriFood Tech commercialisation and eco-system, TEDx Speaker, InDaily 40 under 40.

At the age of 21, I started my first business, leading me to establish ventures in fitness, automotive, property, and accounting industries. However, it was in agriculture and the food system that I saw the greatest opportunity to apply my skills, experience, and network to assist AgriFood Tech startups in commercializing and scaling their innovations, ultimately redesigning the food system.

Over the past 150 years, agriculture has significantly evolved, with innovations like synthetic fertilizer, mechanization, and crop protection allowing us to sustain the population boom of the industrial revolution. Yet, these innovations now struggle to remain effective and sustainable amid diminishing resources for food production, increasing global demand, and shifting demographics. Given agriculture’s crucial role in humanity’s existence, there is an urgent need for our food system to harness technology to enhance resilience, efficiency, and productivity.

This is where agri-food tech comes in.

Agri-food tech encompasses a variety of advanced and emerging technologies, including sensors, artificial intelligence, big data, biotech, and robotics, which are integrated to optimize agricultural systems and the food supply chain.

As an advisor and investor in this sector, I have observed how agri-food tech can significantly improve productivity, efficiency, and sustainability. Solutions for many agricultural challenges already exist, such as sensors and satellites for real-time production monitoring, robotics for addressing labor shortages, and software for collecting, analyzing, and optimizing supply chain aspects. We even have pioneering technologies that allow us to replace synthetic fertilizer with nitrogen-absorbing microbes and produce animal proteins without animals!

However, to be effective, these technologies must be applied and scaled within the actual agricultural industry, in production and regulatory systems capable of handling the complexities of our global food system. This presents both a challenge and opportunity for AgriFood tech—to implement advanced technologies in the world’s least digitized industry

South Australia provides an ideal setting for agri-food tech development, boasting a favorable and diverse climate, a well established agricultural industry, and access to world-class agricultural research. The region has a rich history of agricultural innovation, with growing initiatives to test and incorporate technology on farms and throughout the supply chain, driven by both large and small producers and state government departments.

At SVG Ventures Thrive, we are enthusiastic about agri-food tech’s potential to transform our food system and make a global impact by sustainably feeding the world’s growing population. We believe this transformation will be achieved through deep collaboration among stakeholders across the AgriFood Tech ecosystem, with AgriBusiness corporations and farmers playing a pivotal role. This transformation must be driven by identifying and communicating the challenges that exist across the food system so that startups and entrepreneurs can devise relevant solutions backed by investors like SVG Ventures Thrive.

Addressing these challenges is at the core of my work at SVG Thrive. We recently launched the Thrive APAC accelerator to identify and nurture promising growth-stage Agri-Food tech businesses in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this program, the ten selected startups joined me and the Thrive team for a week in Silicon Valley to attend the World Agri-Tech Summit and connect with numerous global agriculture leaders gathered to discuss and debate the future of our food system.

Collaboration is crucial to tackle the challenges facing our food system, ensuring that AgriFood tech is deployed responsibly and sustainably. By doing so, we can support farmers in producing more food with fewer resources, minimize waste, and enhance the nutritional content of our food. In the process, we can help build a more resilient and sustainable food system for future generations. With the mounting pressure to produce more with fewer resources, agri-food tech is poised to play a vital role in South Australia’s agricultural future.

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