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AgTech FoodTech Protein

AgTech start-up Nasekomo has raised EUR 4 million for its insect rearing technology

Bulgarian agtech start-up Nasekomo, producing an alternative protein from insect for animal feed, has raised EUR 4 million to deploy its proprietary robotized insect rearing technology. By feeding insects with local agricultural by-products, it contributes to creating an environmentally positive local loop. The VC funds Morningside Hill and New Vision 3 backed by the Fund of Funds in Bulgaria participated in the round.

Nasekomo is the first insect rearing company in South-East Europe, with their first industrial-scale production facility in Bulgaria. It benefits from the advantageous labor and business conditions, abundance of input materials all year round, as well as the proximity to some of the target markets – Greece, Turkey, Western Europe.

“We have spent the last 3 years developing unique solutions for the insect rearing market. Nasekomo has leveraged robotics, A.I. and big data which allow us to produce insect protein efficiently. We will not only be competitively producing large volumes, but also addressing the challenges of our world related to animal feed.”

Marc Bolard, Executive Managing Director, Nasekomo

Nasekomo is positioning itself as a premium player in the insect industry with premium sustainable insect products for the feed and agriculture industries:

  1. Food for Fish: Highly digestible and functional insect protein suitable for both marine and in-land species.
  2. Food for Pets: Insect protein for hypoallergenic cats and dogs. Insect feed for birds, reptiles and ornamental fish.
  3. Food for the Land: Nutritious and sustainable organic fertilizer, rich in essential minerals. Green replacement of chemical fertilizers.

Nasekomo’s in-house developed fully automated technology allows for scalable and cost-efficient production of insect products. The R&D department works independently or in collaboration with leading academic institutions and business partners to develop processes and technologies that will propell forward the insect industry as well as Nasekomo.

“Insects are part of the natural diet for many animal species. They now represent an opportunity to become a sustainable solution to supply the proteins that the world is increasingly consuming. Instead of increasing wild fish catch in oceans and deforesting to plant soy, we can feed insects with local agricultural by-products with extremely limited water consumption, and produce high-quality sustainable proteins for fish, poultry, pigs and pets.”

Olga Marcenac, Chief Operating Officer at Nasekomo

Despite being incorporated only 3 years ago, Nasekomo is already scaling up its operating insect rearing facilities. The scale-up will enable Nasekomo to implement circular economy on a large scale. The company upscales organic waste streams from the agro-industry into animal feed by harnessing the power of the black soldier fly larvae.

“We are thrilled to support an experienced team of entrepreneurs with several highly successful enterprises under their belt. In their newest venture, Xavier, Olga and Marc will change the paradigm of protein production by transforming residual biomass into feed. In addition to its sustainable development impact, the business provides a great investment opportunity.”

Pavel Velkov, Managing Partner at Morningside Hill Ventures

The investment will allow Nasekomo to grow its presence on the market and increase its productivity via deploying robotics and data analytics. The company will also launch a new selective breeding program in order to provide the planet with continuously improving efficiency in transforming waste into insect-based products.

Read more at Nasekomo

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AgTech Machine Learning

AI-driven agritech startup, Connecterra, raised €7.8 million to make the dairy industry more productive

Dutch startup Connecterra has secured €7.8 million ($8.75 million) in a Series B funding round from a group of investors including ADM Capital, Kersia, Pymwymic, Breed Reply and Sistema_VC. Connecterra, founded in 2014, aims to empower animal farmers of all sizes to increase productivity, while reducing the substantial impact that animal agriculture has on our planet.

Connecterra is headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and operates in 16 countries. The €7.8 million raised is the biggest ever series B funding round completed by a Dutch AgTech company active in farm animal technology. 

Connecterra’s Intelligent Dairy Farmers Assistant “Ida” is an artificial intelligence-powered service that uses data collected from dairy cows to offer meaningful insights and recommendations. With the funds the startup Connecterra will accelerate the growth of its predictive AI platform, ‘Ida’. So far ‘Ida’ has evolved from sensor tech to a full-stack technology and AI platform, combining proprietary sensor hardware, animal data, third-party enterprise data, and machine-learning algorithms.

“Empowering farmers and the industry with a connected, AI driven platform is a necessity for the future of food production. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought into sharp focus the weaknesses in our food system that is disconnected and faces threats from climate change and a dwindling labor workforce. With the support of our top-class investors, customers and partners, we are well positioned to democratize access to our technology to millions of farmers across the globe.”

Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra

Connecterra has seen adoption of the Ida platform by industry giants such as Danone, Bayer and food safety expert Kersia. The technology is being used to create sustainable farming models that have eliminated the use of hormones, reduced antibiotic usage by up to 50%, and increased farm efficiency. The platform is also part of the Farming for Generations (F4G) consortium led by Danone, aimed at implementing regenerative agriculture practices.

The latest funding will equip Connecterra with the funding needed to grow its presence in dairy leading regions such as Europe, North America and New Zealand and further scale out and develop the AI models and technology behind Ida.

Read more at Connecterra

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AgTech Machine Learning

CSIRO and AgTech company Goanna Ag have announced a partnership to maximise the use of irrigation water

Australia’s national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and agtech company Goanna Ag have announced a partnership that will see sensors and analytics combined to maximise every drop of irrigation water used to grow crops. Under the partnership, Goanna Ag will incorporate WaterWise, a CSIRO-developed technology, into its existing GoField irrigation management system.

Goanna Ag, formed in July 2018, is an Australian AgTech company delivering the next generation of smart farming practices. Through low cost, low power, long range sensors and networks, they work with growers to provide data-driven solutions that simplify farm resource management and improve water-use efficiency.

For Goanna Ag and its customers, being involved in this innovation means they can access brand-new, Australian-made, science-based technology and incorporate it into their existing GoField system. Being able to predict when to irrigate will allow our clients – farmers – to plan based on what the plant needs.

Alicia Garden, CEO, Goanna Ag

The WaterWise system measure the canopy temperature of crops every 15 minutes. The field data, in sync with the weather forecast is then processed using CSIRO’s unique algorithm to predict the crop’s water requirements for the next seven days. WaterWise team leader Dr Rose Brodrick explains that predicting the future is the real breakthrough science. It means for the first time, growers can see the water stress of their crops at any point and predict their future water needs.

“Just like humans, plants have an optimum temperature. When things are normal it’s easier to predict when a plant will need water. But when conditions change — like with a new crop, a new field, or unusually hot or cold weather forecasted — farmers want backup with their decision making.”

WaterWise team leader Dr Rose Brodrick

The next steps for WaterWise are to take it from in-field based canopy sensors to drones or satellites. Goanna Ag expects the system incorporating WaterWise will be commercially available in time for the 2020 summer cropping season.

Read more at CSIRO

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AgTech Investments

Israeli agtech startup Saturas has raised $3 million in Series B funding

Israeli precision irrigation system company Saturas has introduced the completion of first part of a Series B funding round of $3 million. The financing round was from former investors Gefen Capital and Hubei Forbon Technology alongside a new investor, the Trendlines Agrifood Fund.

“We believe that Saturas’ unique technology for measuring stem water potential is poised to change the way farmers manage their irrigation – providing a highly accurate method to reduce water use, at the same time as improving the quality of fruit. Our investment represents the fund’s commitment to investing in technologies that address food and agricultural production in a sustainable way, using innovative knowledge and a team with proven capabilities. Saturas checks all those boxes.”

Trendlines Agrifood Fund CEO Nitza Kardish

Saturas develops a Decision Support System (DSS) based on miniature Stem Water Potential (SWP) sensor that is embedded into the trunks of trees, vines, and plants. As part of an automatic irrigation system, the Saturas sensor provides accurate information for optimized irrigation in order to reduce water consumption and increase fruit production and quality.

“Following our expansion of sales and operations in the US through our California-based subsidiary, and in Europe, South America and China, this investment enables further market and sales expansion, and development of our production capabilities. We are working to complete the full funding round by the end of the year.”

Saturas CEO Anat Halgoa

Stem Water Potential (SWP) is a scientifically recognized, highly accurate parameter, for determining water status in crops. Saturas’ Stem Water Potential (SWP) sensing system automatically collects accurate data using a minimal number of sensors per hectare (1 – 2 sensors). It transmits the processed data to the central automated irrigation control system.

The technology tailors irrigation to real-time water needs of the crop, resulting in more efficient water use and increased yields, fruit size and sugar content (e.g., vineyards). Embedding the sensor into the trunk eliminates the common problem of damage to sensors placed in the soil or on the tree/vine. With direct and reliable information on crop water status, farmers can save water and increase yields.

Read more at Globes

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AgTech Intellectual Property Rights

How will we support data exchanges in agriculture?

As agriculture becomes increasingly digital and mobile via increasing use of consumer devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), it is important to understand how data is being collected, interpreted, and utilized. Moreover, data sharing is going to be fundamental to deriving value from data analytics in agriculture. The absence of legal and regulatory frameworks around the collection, sharing and use of agricultural data contributes to the range of challenges currently being faced by farmers considering adoption of smart farming technologies.

Agri data is neither recognised under traditional type of property (land, building, good and animals) nor any traditional intellectual property (patent, trademark and copyright). Still many existing laws potentially influence the ownership, control of and access to data. For example, legal liability of an autonomous tractor drive over someone else’s scarecrow. Is the liable party in such a case the software coders, the owner of the tractor, the manufacturer of the tractor, all of these parties jointly and severably, or someone else entirely?

This issue might be further complicated and differentiated by the fact that companies like John Deere, claim that the farmers that operate their tractors do not actually own the software that they are running on, nor do they have the right to alter or fix any code in their tractors. But runaway vehicles are not the only concern that farmers have with their autonomous tractors. The robots designed to collect and analyze millions of data points that relate to animal welfare, soil quality, crop quality, and the output or utilization of seed types are often part of the internet-of-things environment.

As on date, the best solution for managing of agri data seems to be, “individual contract agreements to treat agri data as a protected trade secret”. Contract Agreement could include the following 10 points to make sure that the agreement is fool-proof.

  1. Consent: Collection, access and use of farm data should include consent of the farmer with proper signed (or digital) agreement. 
  2. Notification: Farmers must be notified for the collected data with proper details about it’s usage.
  3. Complaint Redressal: Proper complaint redressal mechanism with full transparency.
  4. Features: Defining the availability of services and features when the farmer make choices for opt-in and opt-out.
  5. Portability: Data portability and data retrieval for storage and usage in other systems.
  6. Confidentiality: A clause for not sharing or disclosing the farm data with a third party in any matter that is inconsistent with the contract agreement.
  7. Retrieval: Farmer should have the authority to discontinue the services and collection of data. Services discontinuation should be supported with an option of retrieval and secured destruction of collected data.
  8. Misuse protection: Prohibition of data for anti-competitive activities like speculation in commodity markets based on inputs from the farm data.
  9. Safeguards: Clearly define liability and security safeguards for loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification and disclosure. 
  10. Policy: Notice and response policy for agreement breach.

All the stakeholders in AgTech sector should ensure that Farmers have the opportunity to easily extract their agricultural datasets from one device to another so that they can migrate to a different system, potentially incompatible with the one they are currently using.

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AgTech Investments

Greeneye Technology, an Israeli AgTech startup closed a seed funding round of $7 million

Greeneye Technology, a leading AgTech company with a focus in precision agriculture, announced that it closed a seed funding round of $7 million, led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and participation from Syngenta Ventures, 2B Angels, One Way venture, Panache Ventures Techstars, and Hyperplane Venture Capital.

The company is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel and was established in 2017. The founders have been working closely as a team since 2004, after serving together in the Israeli Special Air Force Unit. Greeneye provides an alternative and sustainable solution for the current crop protection practice in order to meet the globally growing demand for food, while increasing the profitability and productivity for farmers.

We are thrilled to have JVP an international leading VC fund and Syngenta as a strategic and industry expert investors to help fuel Greeneye’s growth. Both our investors share with us the understanding that the way farmers spray chemicals in agriculture is about to be massively disrupted to a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Nadav Bocher, Co-Founder and CEO, Greeneye Technology

Greeneye utilizes artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to revolutionize the pest control process in agriculture, transitioning from the current practice of broadcast and wasteful spraying of pesticides to precise spraying in real-time. Greeneye’s proprietary selective spraying (SPP) system turns every sprayer into a smart machine with seamless integration, and saves up to 90% of the chemical cost.

Greeneye’s technology maps an entire field with cameras at a plant level resolution, offering a robust scouting solution for detecting and killing weeds. Currently, farmers worldwide spray their fields uniformly without distinguishing between crops, soil, and weeds.

Read more at PR Newswire

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AgTech Webinar

AgTech Webinar: Innovation and technology in food and farming

Globally we are fast-moving more toward a technologized society as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown in medicine, education and the way we work. Agriculture too is at the forefront of this revolution with a fledgling sector called agtech. Farmers challenged by climate change, labor shortage, water and land supply shortage and the depletion of arable land, have already been steadily turning to innovation and technology such as blockchain, automation and robotics.

Come join a special panel moderated by Amy Wu that will feature women entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to help farmers succeed. The panel and discussion will address questions including achieving a balance between technology and human labor, how innovation can solve food supply chain issues, and the ways technology is creating a potential paradigm shift in agriculture.

Presenters:

Pamela (Pam) Marrone spent her career focused on biologically based products for pest management; for the last 30 years in Davis CA, where she started and led three biological crop protection companies. She started Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health. The company was listed on NASDAQ in 2013 (MBII), has commercialized 10 products, and is growing rapidly. Pam received the “Sustie” Award from EcoFarm in 2019.

Martha Montoya is CEO and founder of AgTools, which she founded in 2017 as a food supply SaaS platform that provides real-time intelligence to farmers and buyers with the goal of reducing food waste globally. The platform takes into consideration over 75 different market variables from weather to transportation on over 500 different commodities to help growers better plan their crops. The company has 14 employees throughout five offices in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia.

Penelope Nagel is a 9th generation farmer, COO and co-founder of Persistence Data Mining Inc. (PDMI). PDMI is a private company that uses hyperspectral imaging for timely collection of soil data related to spatial variability of soil texture. PDMI has developed algorithms accurately estimating nutrient availability based on hyperspectral data, key to determining where and how much nutrients need to be applied.

Moderator:

Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement. She is the Founder & Chief Content Director of from Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. It has a mission of expanding the profiles of women in food, farming, and tech. The documentary and stories have been screened and presented at SXSW, Techonomy, the Forbes AgTech Summit, EcoFarm and The New Food Economy. Prior to starting From Farms to Incubators, Amy spent over two decades as an investigative reporter at media outfits including the USA Today Network, Time magazine, and she has contributed to The New York Times, HuffPost and Wall Street Journal. She reported on agriculture and agtech for The Salinas Californian in Salinas, Calif. She sits on the Diversity Advisory Committee of EcoFarm.

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AgTech FoodTech

Attractive opportunities in Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture Market

Agriculture and farming is one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. Humanity has come a long way over the millennia in how we farm and grow crops with the introduction of various technologies. By 2050, the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, a rise of 2 billion from now. Along with increase in population, there is a substantial increase in the lifestyle. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because of higher incomes. However, only 4% additional land will come under cultivation by then.

In this context, use of latest technological solutions to make farming more efficient, remains one of the greatest imperatives. Farming is becoming a branch of matrix algebra. Farm operations involve a set of variables, such as the weather, soil’s moisture levels and nutrient content, competition to crops from weeds, threats to their health from pests and diseases, and the costs of taking action to deal with these things. If the algebra is done correctly, the yield gets optimised resulting in maximization of profit.

Agriculture is seeing rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) both in terms of agricultural products and in-field farming techniques. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) sees a lot of direct application across sectors, it can also bring a paradigm shift in how we see farming today. The industry is turning to AI technologies to help yield healthier crops, control pests, monitor soil and growing conditions, organize data for farmers, help with workload, and improve a wide range of agriculture-related tasks in the entire food supply chain.

The overall AI in agriculture market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 1.0 billion in 2020 to USD 4.0 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 25.5% between 2020 and 2026. The market growth is propelled by the increasing implementation of data generation through sensors and aerial images for crops, increasing crop productivity through deep-learning technology, and government support for the adoption of modern agricultural techniques.

Markets and Markets

Recent Developments in AI in Agriculture include:

  1. South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry. Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.
  2. Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services. Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.
  3. Yanmar R&D Europe, with its European research facility based in Florence, Italy, focuses on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry. This include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ (Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech) project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

Some of the companies active in AI in agriculture includes International Business Machines Corp., Deere & Company, Microsoft Corporation, Farmers Edge Inc., The Climate Corporation, Descartes Labs, Inc., AgEagle Aerial Systems, aWhere Inc., Gamaya Inc., Precision Hawk Inc., Granular, Inc., Prospera Technologies, Cainthus Corporation, Taranis, Resson Inc., FarmBot Inc., Connecterra B.V., Vision Robotics Corporation, Harvest Croo, LLC, Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Trace Genomics, Inc., VineView, CropX Inc., Tule Technologies Inc., Blue River technology, FarmBot and PEAT GmbH .