Farm technology pioneer wins national competition for innovation
As seen in The Canberra Times, December 7 2016
Based in Toowoomba, AGDATA was selected from 150 applicants.
A family-run tech company out of Toowoomba has taken out a national technology prize.
AGDATA, a software company founded in 1984 that specialises in farm management, beat nine other entries in the Regional Australia Institute and Google Australia’s 2016 Regional Online Heroes competition.
“We’re a little bit humbled and surprised by the award,” said Glenn Skermann, general manager and son of the original founder of AGDATA.
“The feedback we had was because of what we do, being software development in a regional centre and because we’re servicing remote locations, that impressed the judges.
“It’s fantastic to see a regional business leading the way in digital innovation for agriculture, which is set to play a huge role in the future of our economy. AGDATA has grown from a small family start-up to a valuable national asset, demonstrating just how important regional businesses are to our nation’s prosperity” Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said.
Skermann’s 22,000-plus clients range from the southern tip of Tasmania to the far northern reaches of Queensland and operate all kinds of farms, but the company’s biggest sectors are livestock and broad-acre farming.
While AGDATA declined to provide a revenue figure, it only employs 18 staff, putting it squarely in at least one definition of a small to medium enterprise.
So is there any temptation to leave hometown Toowoomba?
“Not at all. Obviously it is difficult to get software engineers to move here, so if we did need to expand it would be a remote office elsewhere,” Skermann said.
He added that last year’s opening of the Toowoomba airport means his staff can take direct flights to major domestic airports and provide on-site support for customers.
Skermann joined AGDATA in 2001 and since then he said the improvements in regional communications have helped it thrive but he would like to see the NBN roll out faster.
“Now we can do group training on a webinar with businesses from every corner of the country. Certainly the speed of rollout I’d like to see that improve, especially as anecdotal evidence from clients suggests there are some teething problems,” he said.
AGDATA was chosen from 150 entries and 10 finalists to win Regional Online Heroes, including the largest rose petal distributor in the southern hemisphere and an independent film company showcasing the outback. A full list of finalists is available here.