Ceres Tag Advisory Board Supports Ag Tech Commercialisation and Scale

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Published 27 September 2020

Consumers’ expectations and demands are on the rise for guaranteed food safety and sustainability. Consumers are curious to know more about the provenance of the food they’re purchasing and looking to make more informed choices about what goes into their basket.

Ceres Tag is the World’s first and only commercial direct to satellite communication livestock information platform with a proprietary smart ear tag for the supply chain network for Biosecurity and traceability provenance.

The smart ear tag delivers GPS location, health, performance and welfare monitoring plus theft detection. Ceres Tag’s platform allows data to be traced not only throughout the lifetime of the animal, but also the supply chain– in other words, from paddock to plate.

After living and working overseas with their young family for a number of years, Ceres Tag founders Melita and David Smith returned to Australia and their agriculture roots. Melita comes from a six-generation farming family in South Burnett Queensland where her passion for Ag and drive for innovation began.

“We knew we wanted our next project to be in the agriculture industry – that’s where our hearts have always been,” says Melita.

Here stemmed the idea for Ceres Tag.

Melita says she’s most excited about Ceres Tag’s ability to change the way producers and processors manage stock and make decisions for profitability and management.

Supporting Female Founders

Women have always played an important role in Agriculture but the external view is that it is still a very traditional and male-dominated industry. Ceres Tag is not only changing the way producers manage their livestock- they are changing the external perception of women in agriculture and the growing ag-tech sector.

In late 2019, Melita participated in the Advisory Board Centre’s Female Founders program to gain a better understanding of how to engage effectively with external advisors to support the commercialisation and rapid scale phase of the business.

Melita was subsequently awarded a place on the Female Founders Advisory Board Growth program, an Advance Queensland initiative supported by the Advisory Board Centre for female founders leading innovative and high growth potential companies.

Jan Easton, Advisory Board Centre COO and Female Founders Program lead said Melita and Ceres Tag were exactly the type of business that will benefit from an independent Advisory Board.

“Ceres Tag is a deceptively simple solution to a variety of problems in managing the provenance and well being of livestock.  Bringing this solution to life has come from the vision and hard work of Melita, David and the Ceres Tag team.  With a strong governance structure and an Industry Advisory group in place, the timing to introduce an Advisory Board focused on the commercialisation and scale phase is ideal.  The Advisory Board Centre is proud to be supporting Melita and Ceres Tag as part of the Advance Queensland Female Founders program.”

Ceres Tag is leading the way with not only innovation in ag-tech but also diversity. The company has a female co-founder, a majority female management team and a majority female Advisory Board.

The Female Founders program is providing support for women as they journey from a great idea to a great business. This Advisory Board opportunity is unique in that it supports female founders in business in a practical, hands on and material way.

Melita Smith, Ceres Tag Co- Founder

Advisory Board Growth Program

Participating in the Female Founders Advisory Board Program came at a critical point for Melita and the business as the COVID19 pandemic was unfolding. Ceres Tag is a fast-paced dynamic business that used the COVID-19 work from home period to advance many of our business areas and the Advisory Board selection and implementation program was well-timed.

Through the Female Founders program, Melita and Ceres Tag were matched with Jo Willoughby, a highly experienced Advisory Board Chair. Jo has supported Melita in implementing and facilitating the Ceres Tag Advisory Board.

As part of the implementation process, Jo guided Melita through an exploration of the key priorities for Ceres Tag to support the organisation through the next stage of growth. Included in the process was ensuring that the Advisory structure had strong, best practice foundations with clear scope, Charter and identification of the skills and experience needed in Advisory Board members.

Reflecting on her service to Ceres Tag as a Certified Chair, Jo said, “working with founders and CEO’s to help establish and chair their Advisory Board is a tremendous privilege. Melita is incredibly hard-working and relentless in her drive to deliver value to her team as they bring forward a game-changing vision in Ceres Tag. Supporting Melita in her pursuit of success in my capacity as an independent and trusted advisor is a great honour.”

Advisor Concierge Service

The Advisory Board Centre further supported Ceres Tag to connect with independent Advisors that were fit for purpose through the Female Founders Advisory Board Program.

“I found the [Advisor Concierge] EOI process with Jo to be really rewarding. Jo encouraged me to search for the unicorns who could really support our business and not hold back from being ambitious in our search. We received responses from quality candidates and the process was very user friendly. Through the EOI process, we found our Advisors, Peter Day and Sarah Hunter.”

Ceres Tag continues to build on its innovative offering to the agriculture industry with its unique and cost-effective approach.  Their Advisory Board is providing strategic insight and advice into key areas of the business, including QA and ISO systems.  Gaining clarity on these priorities, and ensuring the Advisory Board members were fit-for-purpose meant that Ceres Tag was able to leverage value from the Advisory Board structure from the first meeting according to Melita.

“Jo has great insights around data management and stakeholder relationships as well as business structure and has expertly facilitated our meetings which have been held remotely via Microsoft Teams. Jo has also supported me as a Female Founder to feel more confident in my own capabilities.

Sarah has a wealth of experience in our industry and her insights have been so valuable in helping us to refine and improve our business model and ways to frame conversations with stakeholders.

With one of our priorities being QA and ISO, Peter has been an invaluable asset in this aspect as auditing and compliance is part of his expertise and we are now powering ahead as his advice has helped us to streamline and prioritise this important part of our business.”

The Future of Livestock Management

The outlook for Ceres Tag is overwhelmingly positive.  Already recognised as an award-winning innovation at the 2019 ANZCham – Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Taipei awards, the business has received backing and recognition from the Federal Government, Queensland Government and CSIRO.

Ceres Tag is working with companies such as Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), CSIRO, Data 61, James Cook University, Rezare, Yomura, Clandestine Design Group, Global Star, Advanced Queensland and the Queensland Government as well the Australian Government.

To learn more about Ceres Tag, visit their website at https://www.cerestag.com/.