Cannaponics has named WA cattle farmer Steve Birkbeck as its chairman in a move it said will add commercial expertise to the company and open up new business opportunities.

Birkbeck was the pioneer of Australia’s sandalwood oil export industry and one of the first Australians to export cosmetics and high-end perfume ingredients to France.

The appointment will see the creation of a strategic alliance that will provide Cannaponics with “access” to the Rainbow group of related entities founded by Birkbeck in 1990.

Cannaponics founder and managing director Rod Zakostelsky said Raintree has made an initial share investment in Cannaponics that will be reviewed “once Steve demonstrates to himself that he can add value to Cannaponics”.

“His focus is to build a robust non-executive board structure and where appropriate get his hands dirty, assisting as needed with product and export market development,” Zakostelsky said.

He said Birbeck has developed some of the country’s most successful agri-business and high-end biotech extractive technologies over three decades.

“We have a real opportunity in this country to set ourselves up on the global stage for cannabis production, leveraging off Australia’s optimal climate and renewable infrastructure,” Zakostelsky said.

“Steve really is a national icon with a tremendous amount of experience in exporting products overseas and we’re thrilled he sees our vison and wants to be part of it.”

In his new position, Birkbeck will “identify opportunities through his long-standing networks in the high-end luxury and pharmaceutical sector in Europe”.

Birkbeck told Cannabiz: “My expertise is in extraction of key actives from natural ingredients with a current R&D focus on Cannabis, sandalwood, pearls, and truffles.

“My main skill is being able to build teams. While I have been recognized for pioneering industries this was always with people with key technical skills that made them world leaders in extraction, distillation, compounding and end product development.”  

He described Cannaponics 3,600 sqm facility near Collie as a “great asset for our State”.  

“The project was introduced to me through the Hon Minister MacTiernan, who has been a trailblazer in her quest to transform Australian agriculture to be a world leader in new export technologies and products, that support a low carbon economy,” he said.

Steve Birkbeck: Commercial expertise

“As affordability and accessibility are improved, we are about to see a green wave of demand for end products that Cannaponics has positioned itself to take advantage from.

“The convergence of smart green biotechnology processed using renewable energy to produce products that can reduce pain and anxiety is a mission that I am passionate about.”

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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