A TRIO of South Australian university students have big plans for their livestock Trait Select app – the winner of the University of Adelaide’s latest eChallenge.
The smartphone app aims to help farmers filter through large numbers of animals – initially sheep and cattle — available at auction using multiple prioritised breeding preferences and identify which animals are best suited to their enterprise.
The co-founders of Trait Select are third year agricultural science students Tom Gameau, Hector Mackenzie and Liam Van Schaik, who all come from farms across South Australia. They won $15,000 in cash and prizes by winning the university’s annual Australian eChallenge for early-stage entrepreneurial ventures.
Although there are similar apps available such as the web-based RamSelect and BullSelect, Liam said the aim is to do sheep and cattle on the same app platform.
“Our app will be much more user friendly – we want a hand-held mobile app that you can use on your phone, so you can be extremely flexible in where you use it; in the paddock or at home.”
The app will be more user friendly in its design and simplicity for farmers, and does not rely on WiFi connectivity, he said.
“Our user base will be very similar to that of AuctionsPlus, so anyone who can use AuctionsPlus can use our platform as long as they have mobile coverage.
“We just wanted to make it really easy for farmers to locate rams and bulls that are ideally suited to their production systems and make the process of buying them a lot easier,” he said.
The app’s genetic filtering system to make selections based on a user’s criteria will rely on access to electronic sale catalogues and the co-founders are investigating background access to the Sheep Genetics platform for animal genetic breeding value data, he said.
“We’ve got a prototype up and running; we don’t have a fully functional product at this stage.”
Liam said the founders had other written goals for the app, including a genetic progress predictor for a flock or herd based on the quality of the rams or bulls used.
The annual Australian eChallenge is run by the university’s business school.
“This year’s eChallenge teams have developed an exciting and surprising breadth of innovations,” said the University of Adelaide’s Professor Noel Lindsay, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Entrepreneurship), and Dean of Business, Adelaide Business School.
“Each team has carefully considered some of the problems we all face, individually and as a society, and successfully developed interesting and novel solutions that have real potential for commercial success.
“The aim of the Australian eChallenge is to help students build entrepreneurial capability, develop new ways of thinking about problems and solutions, and increase their capacity to think creatively and act decisively,” he said.
“In whichever direction these students head next, we know that we have helped prepare them to be agile and resourceful, adaptable and resilient, and to harness failures and build on them for success.”
As the overall winners, the TraitSelect founders take home $10,000 in cash, $1000 worth of consultancy services from Madderns Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, and a package worth $4000 which includes permanent residency for 12 months and Accelerator business workshops at the University’s ThincLab business incubator.
Teams competing in the eChallenge pitch business proposals for their new, previously unfunded business concepts, to potential investors from the local business community. They compete for a share of the total prize pool of more than $62,200 in cash and prizes, and the prestige of being awarded the most outstanding Australian eChallenge entrepreneurial venture of the year.
Other entrepreneurial ideas from the teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students focussed on solutions to solve ambulance ramping, assist with rehab after serious injuries, help people manage money better and help domestic violence victims contact the support agencies discreetly.