Australia: Costa Group CEO to chair agtech innovator

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Australia: Costa Group CEO to chair agtech innovator

As if the responsibility of running a company undergoing rapid domestic and global expansion weren't enough, Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC) CEO Harry Debney has taken on the role of chair at Australian agtech group The Yield. 

The Yield's new chair Harry Debney.

The Yield was named Most Innovative International Startup (Series A and Beyond) in the global AgFunder Innovation Awards in March 2018, thanks to its 'Sensing+' technology that uses sensors and analytics to help farmers make better decisions in the field.

In a release, The Yield highlighted Debney brought the experience of a long and successful career growing commercial companies on a global scale, and with it a decade of industry-leading expertise in food and agriculture.

Ros Harvey, founder and managing director at The Yield, said she and the board approached Debney due to his "remarkable" experience at Costa, alongside his board director and non-executive director roles with leading Australian businesses.

“The Yield is on a mission to transform food and farming practices around the world with locally developed technology solutions,” Harvey said.

"We’re growing rapidly and plan to expand globally this year, taking The Yield technology to more farms, in more countries.”

“The wealth of knowledge Harry brings as board chair will be invaluable to The Yield and help us drive those ambitious growth plans at home and around the world."

he Yield announced a successful Series A capital raise in April 2017, with backing from lead investor Bosch Global, KPMG and global investment marketplace AgFunder. Its Series A funding of AUD$6.5 million (US$5 million) took total investment in the company to AUD$11.5 million (US$9 million).

The Yield expects to undertake a Series B capital raise within 18 months to fund its global expansion.

Harry Debney has been the CEO of Costa Group since 2010, during which time he has established Costa as Australia’s leading horticultural business with a portfolio of produce categories including mushrooms, berries, citrus, glasshouse tomatoes and avocados.

“I have always searched for game-changing technology and I am convinced that The Yield will make a major contribution to the future success of the global agriculture industry,” Debney said.

“The agricultural industry has entered an exciting technology phase where we have an opportunity – through more effective real time measurement of key variables combined with predictive analysis – to reach new levels of crop performance, especially in terms of quality and yield," he said.

Debney oversaw Costa Group’s IPO in July 2015, which was considered one of the share market's most successful private equity-backed IPOs.

Under Debney's leadership, Costa has been at the forefront of developing innovative agronomic practices including protected cropping and substrate production techniques and establishing farming operations in China and Morocco.

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