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The Yield - Inside the mind of Mother Nature

Holly Morgan | June 12, 2017
As organisations begin to experiment with intelligent apps, The Yield founder and CEO, Ros Harvey, explains how the Australian start-up is racing ahead in agriculture.

Ros Harvey - Founder and CEO, The Yield
Ros Harvey, Founder and CEO of The Yield

"I'm 52, I'm a woman and I'm not a technologist."

Perhaps not the most common opening lines of an elevator pitch ever heard, but for Ros Harvey, such diversity breeds ingenuity.

In founding The Yield in 2014, Harvey is crafting a world-leader of intelligent solutions in agriculture, an industry ripe for the picking - quite literally - and primed for innovation.

"I have an eclectic background and I sometimes describe myself as an unlikely entrepreneur," admitted Harvey, who started the company from her kitchen in Hobart.

"But I think that helps because whilst I love technology, it's important to focus on the business problem you're trying to solve. Technology is a business enabler."

When chatting to Harvey it's clear that the story behind The Yield fits the typical start-up archetype.

For agricultural tech - known as agtech for short - has gradually become a lucrative vertical for start-ups, start-ups entering a gigantic, traditional market that desperately craves new tools and fresh ways to succeed.

During the past few years, the young and accelerating business has been rapidly revolutionising the local agricultural landscape, garnering worldwide attention in the process. As a leading agtech business, The Yield has won a major international award for innovation in agricultural technology, alongside an Internet of Things focused profile on BBC Future.

Ros Harvey - Founder and CEO, The Yield
Ros Harvey - Founder and CEO, The Yield

Through "creating public good with private effort" - as Harvey explained - the vision behind The Yield is simple, feed the world without wrecking the planet.

"My background in international development is littered with examples of people throwing money at problems and then the money dries up and it all collapses," said Harvey, who founded the globally- recognised Better Work and Sense-T programs - both which have strong novel technology underpinnings.

"The holy grail is to answer how we can build things with communities that really meet their needs. That's what we focus on and we achieve that by using platform technology that we can use over and over again, at scale."

As a major agricultural producer and exporter, with over 325,000 employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing, agriculture and its closely related sectors earn in excess of $155 billion-a-year for around a 12 per cent share of GDP in Australia.

Specifically, Australian farmers and graziers own over 135,000 farms, covering 61 per cent of the country's landmass.

"Everything that happens on a farm, impacts the whole food value chain," Harvey explained.

"By working closely with customers and being able to stretch shelf life by one day, it's worth millions across the food supply chain, and also reduces waste.


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