An agriculture consulting company wanting to develop a cost-saving software system for irrigators has credited a CCI-powered Entrepreneur’s Program with giving it the lift it needed.

Co-founder and director Tim Hyde says undertaking the Federal Government's program in 2015 was pivotal to the company’s current success.

Twenty five sites across Australia are now testing the product and the new company, Swan Systems, recently received a $600,000 Federal Government innovation grant.

As part of the Entrepreneur’s Program – which helps eligible applicants to access important growth grants – an expert consultant assesses the business and identifies areas of improvement. In this case, Swan Systems worked with consultant Andrew Canion.

“With Andrew’s help we did a review of the business and thought about where we wanted to take it,” Hyde says. “We’ve gone from a consulting business (AFS Agriculture) to a software business, essentially.”

After completing the program, the company was awarded a $20,000 grant, which it matched, to spend on a developer to scope Swan Systems, a software system that would help irrigators optimise decision making on usage of water and nutrients.

“We sat down and had workshops for probably a week with our developers. They scoped up the architecture and how the system would work. They went away and gave us an idea of the cost, how it would work and whether it was possible. We then pushed the button and went for it,” says Hyde.

The system uses different data sources to help optimise water and fertiliser efficiency. These include soil moisture probe readings, crop and soil types, weather forecasts, nutrient information and irrigation systems.

The Swan System has been designed for intensive horticulture, irrigated cropping and open public spaces such as parks, gardens, schools and sporting grounds.

Canion, an adviser for six years, says it’s exciting when a company progresses its idea to market after completing the Entrepreneurs’ Program.

“It was all hopes and dreams initially and to see them actually receive this big chunk of money is fantastic. It was really nice to see as they were on the right path and had put in the hard yards.”

Hyde says winning the Federal Government grant was great acknowledgement for the company and was opening doors across the world.

“It is very exciting because the Federal Government actually does due diligence on you, your system and your management capacity. It’s actually quite difficult to get this grant. It took bit of work,” he says.

►To find out more about the Entrepreneurs’ Program’s benefits and criteria, contact CCI’s Entrepreneurs’ Program advisers on (08) 9365 7728 or visit our website.