Bee Tech Challenge seeks solutions to secure a brighter future for our bees

12.04.22

The catastrophic impact of the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires compounded with the massive hive loss during the evolving flood crisis in Northern NSW has severely compromised Australia’s $147 million honey production industry, with potentially devastating implications for the nation’s agricultural sectors and food security resources. 

As technology becomes an increasingly critical component in the war against globally declining bee populations, AgriFutures Australia has launched the inaugural Bee Tech Challenge.  

The Bee Tech Challenge welcomes applications from startups and entrepreneurs with ready-for-market products that meet the needs of the honey bee and pollination industry in the key areas of hive health, biosecurity, hive safety, bushfire protection and preparedness.  

The top ten finalists will be invited to showcase and present a 5-minute pitch to key industry stakeholders at the 4th Australian Bee Congress in Sydney from Wednesday, 8 June to Saturday, 11 June 2022.   

AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program Manager, Annelies McGaw hopes this innovative approach will have a lasting impact across the board.  

“It is our goal that the Bee Tech Challenge’s novel approach in identifying ready-to-go technology will have a positive impact not only on our honey bee businesses, but the broader agricultural sector.  

“The honey bee industry does a lot more than provide us with honey and beeswax products. Pollination services provided through honey bees are essential to our $14.2 billion horticultural and cropping industries. Without a strong national colony of bees we will see a number of drastic flow-on effects to our nation’s food supply, ultimately leading to decreased yields for producers and increased food prices for consumers,” Ms McGaw said.   

Three winners will be determined based on the most innovative and relevant solutions for the beekeeping industry. The successful trio will receive complimentary tickets to AgriFutures evokeAG 2023 taking place on 21-22 February 2023 in Adelaide where they can network with AgriFutures evokeAG attendees including global leaders, investors and innovators in agrifood innovation. The winners will also receive ongoing promotion and support from AgriFutures Australia.   

Hosting the 4th Australian Bee Congress event, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council’s Executive ember Therese Kershaw hopes the event will signify a turning point for the sector’s recovery plans.   

“The Bee Tech Challenge is the first of its kind in Australia. The drought, bushfires and floods that have affected so much of our country over the last few years have been felt right across our industry.  Opportunities like the Bee Tech Challenge are an integral component of our approach to bring our industry back together and build a stronger, more resilient future”.    

“To be able to touch, feel and view these innovations at the Congress will be invaluable. The winners will be selected by the producers, businesses and organisations who need it the most and who will ultimately be the ones to reap the benefits of the implementation of these new technologies,” Ms Kershaw explained.  

AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program received a grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to support the industry’s recovery following the 2019/20 bushfires. The Bee Tech Challenge is being delivered as part of this grant and applications are now open via the AgriFutures Australia website.  

Applications close on 12 noon Wednesday, 27 April 2022. Startups who are considering entering their tech solution into the challenge are encouraged to contact Elizabeth Argue, GRO Events at elizabeth@groevents.com.au.