Transcending COVID-19: hosts the first webinar of the series (link to watch!)


With COVID-19 affecting businesses and supply chains around the world, there is no better time for clusters to step in and support their ecosystems with the methods and solutions to tackle the impacts of the virus and build resiliency for the next phase of events. 

The proximity of clusters to both the problem and its members will mean that they will play an important role in new initiatives and the shift in mindset towards investigating new ways of running operations, developing strategies, and engaging with staff and the supply chain, alike. 

Transcending COVID-19 is a webinar series built to facilitate ongoing conversations about the ag-supply chain in the New England North West and how those who operate in the region with stakeholders who are farmers, distributors, retailers, researchers, and professionals, are responding, recovering, and renewing in these uncertain times.



Peter Haynes, Agribusiness Manager – National Australia Bank

Derek Repp, Business Advisory Associate – Roberts & Morrow

Facilitator: Alissa Patacic, Executive Officer –

Topic: How are ag-businesses in the region responding to COVID-19 and pivoting their capabilities to adapt & improve for the long-term?

Watch the video recording of Webinar 1: Professional Services & Pivoting Capabilities

Celebrating the official launch of the New England ag-tech cluster

The official launch of the cluster took place on Friday, February 21 2020 at the historic Tattersalls Hotel in Armidale. The Board and Executive Officer welcomed guests from across the New England NW that represented the full spectrum of the agricultural sectors, supporting firms, and ag-businesses that make up the “ag ecosystem” in our region.

The focus of the evening was on businesses collaborating, innovation in agriculture, and the challenges and roadblocks that both established and startup businesses face when reaching for growth and success.

The event started with an opportunity for guests to connect over drinks and canapes, and were also encouraged to share on an interactive post-it board their thoughts on what areas they see as being the most diffucult to overcome when pursuing innovation and growth. 

An image from the interactive board asking “What are your biggest roadblocks to success & innovation?” identified areas such as ‘Access to Capital’ and ‘Access to Talent’ to provide a starting point for the collaborative brainstorm and guests identified other roadblocks they felt were their biggest roadblocks to success and growth.

Some examples that were provided included:

  • connectivity;
  • finding regional talent (ie. software engineering);
  • strategic investment (not just $$);
  • government regulations;
  • understanding business governance; and
  • a pull through demand for innovation 

The presentation portion of the evening was then kicked off by chair, Bert Glover, who opened up on the value of clusters to regional economies, why the New England NW has been identified as an agricultural hub in Australia, and what the assets are that make up the cluster today.

Bert also announced’s commitment to supporting a sustainable future for agriculture in Australia by highlighting the prevalence of agriculture in 9 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. With global economies destined for change, agriculture sits at the pinnacle of climate variability and global warming. New opportunities will begin to emerge as a need for expertise, talent, and skills in agritech. 

Next, guests had the opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Rob Hulme, Asia Director of Beanstalk Agtech as he discussed the role of business and community as the key driver to rural innovation. 


To wrap up the evening’s topics, deputy chair of, Anita Taylor, facilitated a panel discussion with panelists Bert Glover, Dr. Nerida Richards, Calum Murray, and Rob Hulme.

Watch below for some highlights from the discussion:

Bert Glover answers the question: Why and Why Now?
Calum Murray, Head of Agriculture and Food at InnovateUk shares with the audience the challenges that are yet to be overcome by a disruptive change in the agriculture ecosystem – here in Australia and around the globe.
Dr. Nerrida Richards speaks on the challenges that face startup agri-businesses in regards to access to capital.

We are pleased to announce that we have raised $500 from the evening’s proceeds to support Blazeaid.