AgTech firm eyes international growth

| July 11, 2018

A family-run Brisbane business that developed an environmentally-friendly plastic mulch film that saves farmers time and money is set to take on the world with the help of the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund.

Innovation Minister Kate Jones said Hydrox Technologies Pty Ltd had proven the success of its Solar Shrink product on the local market and the Ignite Ideas funding would allow it to boost jobs in Queensland as it secured international deals.

“Hydrox Technologies has already achieved what many business dream of doing – it has created a smart product with terrific export potential,” Ms Jones said.

“It’s a big step up to expand the business globally. But with $100,000 in funding through Ignite Ideas, Hydrox is now in a great position to take that step.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s Ignite Ideas fund is about helping businesses get products to market faster, which boosts business growth and creates jobs for Queenslanders.

“It’s innovative businesses like these that are so important to Queensland’s jobs growth in the future – that’s why we’re getting behind Hyrdox Technologies now.”

Farmers use the film to control weeds coming through the soil and using up nutrients needed to grow the crops. It also protects the crops from dirt and helps to prevent blemishes.

It shrinks when exposed to the sun, which reduces the amount of plastic farmers use by up to 30 per cent.

Hydrox Technologies General Manager Mark Trenchard said the Ignite Ideas funding would enable his firm to engage experts and advisors to fill the knowledge gaps in taking the company global.

“It will allow us to perfect the specialized equipment we have designed and built in-house and to test the ability of external machine manufacturers to produce a quality machine and then operate it in a full-scale market such as in America or Europe,” Mr Trenchard said.

“We intend to build a branded and globally recognized speciality mulch plastic by licensing our technology to plastic mulch manufacturers throughout the world.

“Due to the cost reductions and usage benefits presented by our technology, we believe more farmers will benefit from using plastic mulch and potentially increase their crop yields by up to 300 per cent to help feed the growing global population.

“Aside from the financial savings to farmers, if the global volume of mulch film used were to be converted to Hydrox’s technology, 250,000 tons less plastic would be burned, buried or sent to landfill every year.”

Mr Trenchard said the Ignite Ideas funding allowed him to travel to Barcelona last year to present a paper at the Agricultural Film Conference which resulted in several collaboration requests from firms in Europe, Israeli and India.

Hydrox’s Solar Shrink product was recently named as one of the ‘World’s Top 10 New Agricultural Products for 2018’ at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.

Hydrox, based in Brisbane’s Sumner Park, was one of 11 AgTech companies supported by the Palaszczuk Government to travel to Tel Aviv for a trade mission in August.

“One of the biggest lessons for me from the trip that I’ve brought back to Queensland is to act locally but think globally,” Mr Trenchard said.

Innovation Minister Kate Jones said Hydrox Technologies was one of 85 successful applicants independently assessed in a highly competitive process, that shared in the latest round of $10 million in Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas funding.

“The Palaszczuk Government has so far supported 203 Queensland businesses through $26.5 million in Ignite Ideas funding over three rounds, driving more than 1000 new jobs,” she said.

Ignite Ideas is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s half-a-billion-dollar Advance Queensland initiative which is aimed at attracting new investment, building global partnerships and encouraging businesses to start and grow in Queensland.