By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

It was back in 1998 that then Premier Peter Beattie caught many of us by surprise, announcing Queensland would henceforth be known as the ‘Smart State’, and not for our abundant sunshine.

The change in emphasis was in recognition of the need for Queensland to develop itself as a knowledge based economy, with a competitive advantage in human capital that would create valuable ideas and innovation, rather than relying overly on our wealth in natural resources.

Over 20 years later and the opportunity is still there, to not just lead the rest of the world in the production of goods, but in addition to also sell to them the latest systems, technologies and services we’ve developed for the production of these goods.

This is the same opportunity for Queensland as the premier state in Australia for horticultural production as it is for our other leading industries including mining.

For these reasons we are celebrating this week the launch of the Gatton Smart Farm initiative.

This is a national flagship program that is bringing together our own research and development corporation Hort Innovation, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, industry and commercial partners.

It is designed to drive AgTech adoption across Queensland and Australian horticulture by transforming the Gatton Research Facility into a world class ‘Smart Farm’.

Growcom would like to commend all the parties involved for driving this initiative to point of it being launched.

Complementing the launch of the Gatton Smart Farm as a physical space for collaboration is our current development of Future Fields, a new strategic plan for the Queensland fresh produce supply chain.

Future Fields is also creating a space for the collaboration required to fix some of our most challenging and complex problems.

Like the Smart Farm, a key objective for Future Fields is to ensure Queensland has all the right conditions, resources, skills and attitudes required to make us the preferred place to grow a horticultural business.

So far in our Future Fields engagement we’ve heard from supply chain stakeholders at a summit in Brisbane, and through a recent series of regional workshops during November in Bundaberg, Mundubbera, Bowen, South Johnstone and Mareeba.

Based on what we’ve heard our next step will be to decide what few challenges and opportunities we’re going to focus our energy and attention on over the next couple of years.

Keep across our progress with Future Fields at