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Exhibitor Spotlight: Rubens Technologies

What if less food was wasted because farmers knew exactly when fruit and other crops were ready to be harvested? What if packers and distributors had data that told them when and in what conditions fresh food is at its best on its journey to consumers? That’s the goal of Victorian company Rubens Technologies, which is developing sensors and analytics that can provide intelligence on these factors across the whole supply chain. Rubens Technologies will be in the Innovation Precinct, presented by Seeds&Chips, at Global Table in September. Founder Daniel Pelliccia tells us what the business is all about.

Tell us how and when your business started.
Rubens Technologies is a spin-off of my consulting business Instruments & Data Tools. In 2015, I was asked for an opinion about handheld devices to measure fruit maturity by Agriculture Victoria. The idea was exciting, so I applied for and won a Global Linkage Priming grant that allowed me to travel to MIT and learn about this technology. After that I started developing my own prototype and got into the Runway Geelong accelerator. Rubens Technologies was officially founded in August 2018, after graduating from Runway Geelong.

Why did you want to pursue this business idea?
About 30 per cent of world food production is wasted at some stage along the supply chain. Being able to accurately predict the optimal state of crops and fruits will be key to mitigate this problem going forward. It will help growers optimise picking and distribution according to their target markets, and monitor the state of their crops after harvest. I realised this is something we could do here and now to improve our production and avoid wasting precious resources.

What need or challenge does your business address?
Our business provides intelligence based on objective data about the optimal state of fruits and crops. Using sensors and analytics we can predict the optimal parameters of fruit (for instance, sugar content, maturity, etc.) to provide insights to growers about the optimal time to harvest and how long to store fruit for, depending on the target market. This takes the guesswork out of the pre- and post-harvest management of sensitive crops, such as stone fruit, apples, avocados and kiwi fruit.

What is your favourite fact about the agriculture or food industry?
Australia lags behind many countries in the Southern Hemisphere when it comes to fresh fruit exports. Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and even Uruguay export more fruit than we do

Have you taken your business to many B2B events? If so, what were they?
We exhibited at THAIFEX World of Food in May 2019 in Bangkok.

What do you think makes a great trade show or business event?
Networking is key, and a great event needs to cater for that with dedicated space and easy ways to make connections.

What are you looking forward to learning more about at Global Table?
Innovation in food production is ever accelerating, and it’s often hard to keep track of what’s happening in the industry. Events like Global Table can help you stay on top of what’s new and discuss latest developments directly with the innovators.

Where do you want your business to be in three years?
Providing analytics and intelligence services to fruit and crop producers, packers and distributors through our combination of sensors and analytics.

In your opinion, what has been the most exciting innovation in food over the last five years?
The potential to engineer food production according to exact specifications is exciting and sobering at the same time. On one hand, this is great because it has the ability to solve or mitigate food crises, but it’s also scary because of the implications for agricultural production and family farmers.

What else would you like to see change in the food or agriculture industry?
We need increasing support to enable technology and farming practice to get closer together. It’s still very hard for farmers to make a business case for using more technology in their business operations and as a result the uptake of new tech has been quite slow in the industry. We need increased and more focused support towards this goal.

See Rubens Technology in the Innovation Precinct, presented with Seeds&Chips, at Global Table, 3-5 September 2019, Melbourne Showgrounds. If you’d like to join the Innovation Precinct as an exhibitor, apply now

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