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Australian eChallenge uncovers new innovations for wool industry

Friday, 16 November 2018

Easy Drench, the on-farm concept pitched by a team from the University of Tasmania has won the 2018 Australian eChallenge Wool Innovation.

The Australian eChallenge Wool Innovation is a collaboration between Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the University of Adelaide (UA). The entrepreneurship program enables university teams to create, develop, assess and bring to reality innovative ideas for the wool industry. These entrepreneurs are provided tools, interaction opportunities and mentorship to break into the sheep and wool industry.

With entrepreneurs from across Australia competing for the prize, the winning team presented an innovation that could revolutionise the sheep and wool industry.

The concept of Easy Drench is to reduce the time and cost of the control of internal parasites in sheep. With annual internal parasite costs to the sheep and wool industry nearly $436 million per year, Easy Drench aims to introduce a new level of precision when applying drench to save time, cost and inaccuracy.

The team behind Easy Drench, Katrina Durham, Janine Chang Fung Martel and Dylan Bellchambers, said that they refined the concept through their involvement in the Australian eChallenge.

“The eChallenge provided us the opportunity to use technology to address issues in the wool industry. The program has enabled us to connect with experienced industry leaders and with their knowledge and guidance we have been able to shape our idea into something possible and realistic.”

“It’s a great opportunity, particularly for those with entrepreneurial skills to bring diversity into agriculture.”

Easy Drench team members Dylan Bellchambers, Katrina Durham and Janine Chang Fung Martel 

Second place was awarded to LIVEweight from the University of Adelaide and third place was taken out by Grassroots Coding also from the University of Adelaide.

The judging panel comprised of a diverse group of professionals from within the industry.

The judges were Mark Dyson the Managing Director of Quality Wool, Michelle Dalzell, the Global Systems Manager of Michell Wool Pty Ltd, Dr Wendy Lindsay, lecturer at the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre at the University of Adelaide and John Roberts, the Eastern Hemisphere General Manager at Australian Wool Innovation.

Mark Dyson said the calibre of the entrants was exceptional and each concept has the potential to disrupt, innovate and evolve the wool industry.

“The eChallenge is a unique platform for entrepreneurship in the sheep and wool industry that attracts young minds into the industry. All teams pitched their concepts at an extremely high level of professionalism and although we chose Easy Drench as the winning team, each concept has the potential to innovate the wool industry.”

AWI’s General Manager of Research Dr Jane Littlejohn highlighted that Australian eChallenge Wool Innovation plays a crucial role in attracting new talent to the Australian wool industry and identifying productivity gains..

“AWI is the key organisation brokering development for the wool industry in six areas ripe for innovation: marketing, sheep production, processing innovation, education, woolgrower services, and business services,” Dr Littlejohn outlined.

“Hosted by The University of Adelaide in conjunction with AWI, the Australian eChallenge Wool Innovation program is the ideal platform to support new ideas in these areas that can contribute to making the wool industry more vibrant, profitable and sustainable.”

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About AWI
AWI is a not-for-profit company that invests in research and development (R&D), and marketing to increase the long-term profitability of Australian woolgrowers.

AWI is funded primarily through a wool levy paid by woolgrowers and a matching contribution from the Federal Government for eligible R&D activities that are capped at 0.5% of the value of gross national value of wool production.

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