AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholar pecks the surface of agtech start-up


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AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholar Xavier Burton chose to complete his annual industry work placement at the innovative poultry start-up MimicTec and was given the unique opportunity to see the workings behind a successful agtech business.

Robo-chooks, investor meetings and veterinary science were just some of the things AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholar Xavier Burton experienced at his annual industry work placement at MimicTec.

Xavier studies a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and chose MimicTec to complete his work placement to get a deeper insight into the functioning of an agtech start-up.

MimicTec, co-founded by Eleanor Toulmin and Sarah Last, is an agtech start-up looking at improving the productivity of poultry farming. Their physical product is a mother hen imitation device to reduce stress in poultry chicks up to the natural weaning age of three weeks. The artificial mother hen produces heat, encouraging chicks to bond with it, providing comfort and creating healthier, happier chicks.

Xavier had the chance to experience the business side of the start-up, with their headquarters located in Melbourne, and was also lucky enough to check out the poultry sheds in Bendigo, Victoria.

“I was able to observe the broiler growing shed facilities which was an eye opening experience. Having the chance to observe an operation like this has been one of the biggest highlights of my agricultural career,” Xavier said.

Networking and meeting industry professionals are key outcomes of the work placement component of the AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholarship. Xavier met with poultry professionals and investors and also sat in on business meetings which gave him the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of business relationship development.

“As the internship progressed, the opportunities that arose to experience business relationships allowed me to realise that having great communication skills such as Eleanor and Sarah is essential in developing momentum behind a start-up,” Xavier said.

The internship was an educational experience for Xavier who said he now realises it takes a lot more than a good idea for a start-up to be successful.

“From what I observed at MimicTec, I now know that it takes not only an original and innovative idea, but also superb business skills, excellent organisation and finally an ability to be opportunistic by utilising everything that comes your way to grow a successful idea. I observed all of this at MimicTec and I believe these are the fundamental reasons that it is going to do a lot of good for the modern poultry industry,” said Xavier.

The AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholarship is an initiative supporting students enrolled in full time study at an Australian university. Students must be studying an agriculture-related degree or a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths/Finance (STEM) with major studies and subject selections that align to agriculture. Travel and accommodation to approved work placement is included as part of the Scholarship.

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