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Are TNQ Producers Entrepreneurial By Nature?

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

Farmers2Founders creates program in search of answers for Tropical North Queensland agriculture

  • The Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) Innovation Program has been designed to support farmers, students, researchers and aspiring entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of agrifood concepts that deliver impact to the TNQ region.

  • Led by James Cook University (JCU) the program is being funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

  • Farmers2Founders will deliver the startup, pre-accelerator program in partnership with JCU’s TNQ Drought Hub.


21 September 2022 - Farmers2Founders (F2F) in partnership with JCU’s TNQ Drought Hub are searching for producers, researchers, students and aspiring entrepreneurs with concepts and ideas to join the TNQ Innovation Program. This program has been designed to accelerate the commercialisation of agtech and agrifood solutions that deliver impact specifically to the TNQ region.

Farmers2Founders General Manager, Skye Raward, said she was excited to see what ideas are out there to help agriculture in TNQ and rally a cohort of future entrepreneurs who can champion the region.

“We are searching for individuals and teams to develop agritech solutions that respond to the unique needs of Tropical North Queensland’s primary producers and wider agricultural industry to boost sustainability, productivity and profitability,” said Mrs Raward.

“Farmers2Founders puts producers at the centre of the innovation process which is fundamental to the development of new tech solutions that actually solves problems on farm. By engaging with producers throughout the process and deeply understanding their challenges, agtech providers are better placed to develop strong value propositions and deliver on the specific requirements of the region.”

Farmers2Founders Agtech Program Manager and AgriFutures evokeAG Future Young Leader for 2023, Matt Anderson, recently caught up with three F2F Alumni from the TNQ area to discuss what had inspired them to join a program and explore their idea.

Luke Chaplain (Cloncurry), primary producer and founder of SkyKelpie said: “I didn’t know much about the whole startup or technology lingo, I just had a bit of an idea and thought maybe it could work.”

“Going through a Farmers2Founders program was hugely beneficial for me and really kick started my journey.”

“I had an idea around drones and mustering on large stations. It was a reasonable problem for us on farm, but I was also thinking about the industry at large and the opportunities for producers; but also maybe for me, you know, I might make a few bucks!”

“I wanted to prove the solution before I commercialised something. I came into the program thinking ‘minimal viable product (MVP) - what does that mean’, but I listened and learnt and then I was doing it!”

“Off the back of Farmers2Founders, I applied for a Nuffield Scholarship, which I was lucky to get last year, and off the back of that I now have two separate trials, one with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and another with the Queensland Department of Agriculture.”

“Through the program I validated what I wanted to do and remember thinking to myself ‘oh god - I can’t believe this will actually work!’ and it has worked for me in what I have been doing in trials in the last few months. It is very exciting!”

The group discussed the ‘lingo’ Luke mentioned, often associated with startup, accelerator programs and being entrepreneurial, concluding that in fact life on the farm is actually quite an entrepreneurial gig.

“Most of the time you gotta be entrepreneurial in how you operate the station; thinking outside of the box as you face challenges. It’s just that we don’t throw out and label ourselves as that,” said Sam Fryer (Flinders Shire), Grazier, entrepreneur and Account Manager at Black Box.

Sarah Donovan (Duaringa) founder and 3rd generation producer agreed: “I think primary producers are very resilient people and naturally very innovative.”

“I’ve watched over decades as my father and brother, who are well versed broad acre farmers, be entrepreneurial; modifying machinery to suit whatever was needed, creating bespoke solutions to fix on farm issues.”

“It is happening all the time on farms and I think primary producers know the problems better than anyone, and more often than not, I believe that they know how to solve them. It’s having the confidence to come forward, creating some time and making the connections out there to take the next step, knowing that they actually can be the people who can solve these issues.”

“I would have never been able to participate in a program to work on my idea, but Farmers2Founders made it easy being online. They really ‘get’ producers and are asking them what the problems are and offering them the opportunity to be part of the solution.”

The TNQ Innovation program is currently open for applications to anyone in Australia with an idea or application that will help solve a challenge in the TNQ region, and specifically, encouraging any Queensland producers with ideas on how to solve key regional challenges to apply.

Applications close Sunday 9th October 2022.

To learn more about the program, visit

Media contact:

Britta Marsh

Marketing & Community Manager

Sam Fryer is an enthusiastic and energetic individual with a wide experience in the Australian beef industry, from the gulf of Australia, Northern Territory to Southern Queensland. Growing up on a family cattle property in North Queensland, established a strong connection to the beef industry and life on the land.

With a passion for the beef industry and wanting to learn from leaders in the industry. Sam is currently working to help producers get a better insight into their business through the management and analysis of their data.

Sarah Donovan is the Manager of her family’s feedlot near Duaringa and along with other members of her family, works across multiple aspects of their mixed farming enterprise.

Sarah is an experienced agricultural supply chain professional with 20 years experience working across multiple ag sectors (grains, pulses, livestock, feedlotting) and a strong passion for ag tech, innovation, automation and cloud computing platforms.

Luke Chaplain is a 2022 Nuffield Scholar and proudly from Cloncurry in North West Queensland.

His startup company, SkyKelpie, is currently undertaking research and development around the application of drones for mustering livestock.

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