Student stories: MimicTec featured in leading Agribusiness publication

11th August 2017

After putting in blood, sweat & tears into your business it’s great to get recognition and awareness about it. So we’re thrilled to see our alumni do just that.

Eleanor Toulmin and Sarah Last, our 2016 The University of Melbourne’s Master of Entrepreneurship alumni, were featured in a key Agribusiness publication about upcoming AgTech startups.

Their AgTech startup, Mimictec, is improving poultry farming productivity through a world-first agricultural infrastructure product that mimics maternal care on commercial farms.

Here’s an extract from The Weekly Times feature:

SARAH Last and Eleanor Toulmin are young entrepreneurs who believe agriculture is the new technology frontier.

It was during her vet science studies that Last realised agribusiness was her passion, and that she wanted to have an impact on more than one animal at a time.

So Last, 23, and Toulmin, 28, who has an economics and consulting background, joined forces over an idea to improve the survival and feed conversion rates of poultry chicks.

From that union has come MimicTec, a start-up through which Last and Toulmin have created a mother hen imitation device to reduce stress in poultry chicks up to the natural weaning age of three weeks.

The artificial mother hen produces heat, encouraging chicks to bond with it, providing comfort and creating healthier, happier chicks. MimicTec is in the early stages of development, with a third prototype about to be trialled.

Last and Toulmin have secured seed funding of $70,000 — with an additional $180,000 if trials are successful — from angel investor Scale Investors, and have been accepted into the Melbourne Accelerator Program, run by the University of Melbourne. Scale Investors supports ventures that have at least one female partner, a policy obviously attractive to Last and Toulmin.

“Being two women in agtech, and with agtech having a big push in Australia at the moment, we’ve had a lot of interest from accelerators and investor groups,” Toulmin says. “When you’re a young start-up you’ve always got far too many balls in the air than you can ever really hope to catch, but it also means that we’re on the brink of something significant.”

Last and Toulmin hope to run a commercial trial early next year and have their product on the market by the end of the year.

“With software, you just need a couple of people and a couple of laptops. We’re developing hard tech and it takes a huge business and personal financial toll. We’ve been working for a year and only just got a pay cheque, but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t believe in the agribusiness industry.”

To learn more about our incredible student community and what they’re working on, visit us on Open Day, Sunday 20 August, for a fun day of mini-masterclasses, music and networking!

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