Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Funding contest targets agricultural innovators

Staff writer, with CNA

The Council of Agriculture has launched a contest on three crowdfunding Web sites, pitting innovative ideas for agricultural startups against each other to see which can raise the most money, Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Chen Wen-te (陳文德) said.

With the nation’s aging agricultural workforce, there is a pressing need for young people to join the sector and for the council to promote modern farming techniques, Chen said, adding that to encourage young people to set up modern agribusinesses and reinvigorate the industry, the council is launching its second project development contest since 2013.

The contest is to last until October and is expected to attract more than 65 teams to submit fundraising proposals with the aim of raising about NT$10 million (US$317,700), Chen said at a news conference.

Council department of science and technology director Lu Hu-sheng (盧虎生) said that financing startups via crowdfunding Web sites has become a global trend.

For instance, in Australia, he said, a revolutionary new invention dubbed the Flow Hive raised NT$1 million just three hours after it was posted on a crowdfunding Web site, even though it originally aimed to collect NT$70,000.

The innovation enables beekeepers to harvest honey with minimal disturbance to bees and has been hailed as the most significant innovation in beekeeping since 1852, he said.

One project developer in the council’s contest is Cheng Hui-ling (鄭蕙玲), who works in agriculture in Kaohsiung. Her proposal involves dried fruits, a notebook consisting of paper made with dried pineapple skin and agricultural education camps featuring the manufacturing process, she said.

Lu said Cheng aims to raise NT$100,000.

Once the contest concludes, the council plans to award prize money ranging from NT$10,000 to NT$80,000 to those whose proposals attracted the most funds, Lu said.

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