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Tech ventures heading to market

CannaPacific medical cannabis crops.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Cannabis jobs at Lismore, Place Design Group expands, and biological farming company Terragen Biotech prepares to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.


The NSW North Coast has long had a certain reputation for on-the-quiet cannabis cultivation – but now the legal kind is boosting legitimate job prospects in the Lismore area.

Up to 100 jobs will be created with the development of CannaPacific’s multi-million-dollar medical cannabis growing and processing operation. Currently, all legal medical cannabis in Australia is imported, and one of the company’s aims is to end reliance on imports while also generating export product.

Lismore City Council worked with the company to navigate the legal, development approval and other requirements to get the enterprise operational. Stage one, which incorporates a 10,000 square metres of smart solar-equipped hydroponic greenhouse, processing and R&D facilities, is currently under construction.

The company is headed up by civil and structural engineer, Joshua Dennis, and has a team including medical oncologists, palliative medicine specialists and pharmaceutical industry executives.  

It is the only licensed medicinal cannabis facility in the Northern Rivers and believed to be one of the first in the country. It will also serve as an advanced cannabis plant research and development unit in collaboration with the University of Newcastle.

“This is a huge facility that will create much-needed economic activity and jobs for our community,” Lismore’s deputy mayor Darlene Cook said. “It is a very significant investment.”

“It not only shows that Lismore is open for business but also that we can attract new industries to the area.”

CannaPacific operations manager Tim Ritchie said Stage 1 construction was nearing completion and it expects to commence cultivation by mid-2020.

“With supply agreements in place in both domestic and international markets, we are well-positioned to create a sustainable local industry,” he said.

Biological farming innovator prepares to list

Gut health and cultivating microbes for the human biome is one of the hottest food trends, now a startup in the agtech space is applying similar principles to soil, plants and animal health.

Terragen Biotech has developed zero-chemical products based on beneficial micro-organisms. It is currently at the IPO stage and preparing for listing on the Australian Stock Exchange with a capital raise target of up to $20 million.

Its stock feed supplement designed for the dairy industry and soil conditioner are both already gaining a fan base in both Australia and New Zealand and have also achieved Organic agricultural input certification.

The company has partnered with RMIT, University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science and UC Davis, California. It recently established an integrated head office, production and R&D facility at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.

Testing of the plant nutrition product, Great Land, has shown increased yields and reduced need for chemical inputs for crops as diverse as sorghum, bananas, avocados, macadamia nuts, lettuce, maize, sugarcane and plantation eucalyptus.

Antler VC’s first Australian Demo Day

Global startup accelerator Antler VC will unveil 12 new Australian technology companies on Thursday in Sydney at its first Australian Demo Day.

The new ventures include SiteHive, a software platform and IoT device solution developed by former Arup Digital services leader, Ben Cooper-Woolley and former MYOB executive Adam Ferguson.

Their concept aims to help development and construction projects minimise environmental impacts through monitoring, measuring and managing environmental factors.

An initial version of the package including IoT monitoring devices has already been deployed on some Australian construction sites, and the team won a commendation in the Emerging Ideas category of the Committee for Sydney Smart City Awards, held in September this year.

Place Design Group consolidates Sunshine Coast presence

Place Design Group has decided to boost its presence in the Sunshine Coast region with the acquisition of Sunshine Coast-based planning and design practice, James Birrell Design Lab (JBDL).

The merger brings the number of the company’s offices in Queensland to four in combination with its Brisbane, Townsville and Gold Coast offices, and it also has an office in Sydney and three in China.

The company said the “James Birrell, head of JBDL, is a leading voice on Queensland’s thriving Sunshine Coast and is already driving significant change for the region as the founding father for the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit project”.

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