Croc Pitch Runners Up will benefit from Investment Ready grant


Croc Pitch finalists

There was only one winner in the $1m 2023 Croc Pitch but that did not mean others went away empty handed.

Now in its 5th year, Croc Pitch is Northern Australia’s premier pitching competition for start-ups run by Darwin Innovation Hub. Our crocs are always hungry for pitches that benefit Australia’s North and at the Developing North Australia Conference, eight finalists from around the world pitched for their chance to win up to $1 million in venture capital.

Paspalis chief executive officer Harley Paroulakis headed a panel of experts which included Stephen Land (NAIF), Stuart Palmer (Local Job Fund) and Karmen Karamanian (Red.k strategy & design).

Runner ups were Northern Territory company, AusNorth Trading who are focused on establishing micro businesses in North Australia and Southeast Asia, specialising in growing and fattening mud crabs for export through a network of micro farms in Indigenous communities and Eden Towers, a sustainable future food company that utilises vertical farming technology to grow high quality fresh produce and non-food crops.

They each won a $33,000 Business Innovation Program (BIP) grant with entry into the StartNT Program courtesy of the support of the Northern Territory Government. The BIP program is run in 3 stages:

  1. planning
  2. development
  3. commercialisation.

Each of the prize winners will receive assistance from an advisor to progress and commercialise their concept to ensure they are investment ready.

“The quality of all eight finalists is a clear demonstration of the innovation which exists in the North,” Mr Paroulakis said. “While the winner will be a huge benefit for local manufacturing and global mango exports, the runner ups presented unique solutions accompanied by commercialisation and employment opportunities.”

Martin Redhead, Director Business Innovation for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade said: “Croc Pitch is a centre piece of the Territory Innovation ecosystem and the Northern Territory Government is pleased to support the runner up’s through the Business Innovation Program.”

Croc Pitch Runner upEden Towers co-founder Christian Prokscha said the company had identified the Northern Territory as a location for regional future food networks.

“We currently have three farms operating in Perth, Adelaide and Jakarta and our ambitions are to build a regional future food network where data, operations and technology drive new food products through our farming operations and downstream processing activities,” he said.

“We are now ready to deploy our commercial scale farms in 2024 and are actively seeking new locations to deploy our next farms. The NT is of significant interest due to its import supply chain, high price of crops and limited security of supply. The BIP grant will assist us navigate the process and ensure we are investment ready for success.”

Croc Pitch Runner upAusNorth Trading managing director Kevin Mulvahil said the BIP grant will prove valuable in progressing the planned micro farms.

“We see an opportunity for a positive economic and social impact through this project,” he said. “BIP and DIH will help us put together a commercialisation strategy to ensure the economic success of the venture and get us ready for future investment. We could see a network of micro farms on Indigenous communities selling Territory mud crabs into the Southeast Asian market.”