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AgTech Business Plan

SilviBio announced the winner of Agri-TechE 2020 GROW Business Plan Competition

The Agri-TechE 2020 GROW Business Plan Competition welcomed business plans describing new commercial opportunities based around new products or services to help increase the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural and horticultural production, or downstream food processing. The Competition was opened on 6th November 2019 and the closing date for submission of business plans was 15th April 2020. Applicants were supposed to clearly describe how they would help meet one or more of the objectives of improving productivity, efficiency or sustainability within agriculture or horticulture.

The judges – Calum Murray, Head of Agriculture and Food at Innovate UK; Kerry Baldwin, Co-Founder of IQ Capital; Rob Alston, director at AF Group; and Andrew McLay, an Innovation Lead for Agriculture at UKRI – reviewed the business plans of all the entrants and selected four companies, “SilviBio, Glaia, AgriOptimizer and Farmz2U” to go through to the final.

SilviBio, a company developing a solution to increase germination rates of tree seed, was announced the overall winner of GROW 2020 by Calum Murray of Innovate UK, one of the judges.

SilviBio founded in 2019 by a science entrepreneur Dr Alicja Dzieciol, an expert in the synthesis and characterisation of hydrogel materials, has developed a seed coating for conifers, that improves germination by 40 per cent where there is drought stress. SilviBio’s innovative bio-formulation creates a survival capsule for the seedling, providing a water source and slow release nutrition. It also creates a favourable environment for the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

The other 3 finalists include:

  1. Glaia: Glaia has developed a new class of plant additive called ‘sugar dots’ that can increase photosynthetic efficiency naturally, increasing yields by up to 20 per cent. Sugar-dots are water soluble and can be applied as a foliar spray or within an irrigation system and have been tested on a variety of crops from soft fruit through to wheat and sorghum.
  2. AgriOptimizer: AgriOptimizer aims to address the unsustainable fertiliser use problem by using the plant’s molecular signature as a way to precisely determine plant health issues at an early stage and create a fertiliser with a bespoke prescription.
  3. Farmz2U: Farmz2U is digitising agri data and combining it with data information on soil composition, weather trends, historic crop yields and animal health to provide tailored advice to farmers delivered by phone. In a pilot it has increased yield by 20%, more than doubled annual farm sales per farmer and created jobs for agricultural students.

About Grow: Launched in 2015, GROW is the UK’s first business plan competition for agri-tech. GROW aims to encourage a pipeline of agri-tech innovation by providing support and guidance through a mentoring programme and then access to a range of prizes provided by service providers in the agri-tech cluster. This includes support for patent protection and management, space in incubators, membership of business clubs, access to training and marketing and business advice.

Read more at Agri-TechE

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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.

Categories
Intellectual Property Rights

GI tag for Manipur black rice, ‘Chakhao’

Chakhao, a scented glutinous rice which has been in cultivation in Manipur over centuries, is characterised by its special aroma. Chakhao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine. GI has great potential to play a major role in trade and there is a possibility of preserving many traditional skills.

As defined by WIPO, a geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. A study published by the European Commission concluded that the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double that for similar products without a certification.

The application for Chakhao was filed by the Consortium of Producers of Chakhao (Black Rice), Manipur and was facilitated by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Manipur and the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited.

Read more at NorthEast Now

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Intellectual Property Rights Trade

Famed Kashmiri saffron granted Geographical Indication (GI) tag

As per the documents, the Geographical Indication Registry has approved the GI tagging on the Kashmiri saffron, symbolizing its exclusivity in the international market. Directorate of Agriculture has been declared as a registered proprietor of the GI of saffron. In Kashmir, saffron cultivation is done on 3,715 hectares of land. GI tagging will set apart the high-quality Kashmiri saffron from the cheaper varieties of Iran, Spain, and Afghanistan.

Kashmiri saffron is of superior quality because of the higher concentration of crocin, a carotenoid pigment that gives saffron its color and medicinal value: Its crocin content is 8.72% compared to the Iranian variant’s 6.82%, which gives it a darker color and enhanced medicinal value.

Kashmiri saffron, known for its quality and aroma worldwide, has been witnessing an invasion by cheaper Iranian saffron. Iran is currently the largest producer of saffron in the world, cultivating over 300 tonnes every year on 30,000 hectares of land. Due to the bulk market capturing by the Iranian saffron, the price of Kashmiri saffron dropped by 48% after 2007.

Read more at TheKashmirMonitor

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Intellectual Property Rights

Geographical Indications: Economic impact on agri-food products

As defined by WIPO, a geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production. Similar to GI, European Union also protects Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG), highlighting the traditional aspects of a product, such as traditional production methods or traditional composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area.

A study published by the European Commission, which collected the economic data from each of the 3,207 GI protected products from across the EU, found that GIs represent a sales value of €74.76 billion. The sales value of agricultural products and foodstuffs labelled as TSG were found to be worth €2.3 billion. Out of the 3,207 product names registered as either GI or TSG in 2017, 49% were wines, 43% agri-food products and 8% spirits drinks.

It concluded that the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double that for similar products without a certification. This is due to the high quality and reputation of these products and a higher willingness of consumers to pay for authentic products. Example of GI include champagne, which is produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.

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Uncategorized

‘Apple detectives’ find 10 lost fruit varieties

A team of retirees that scours the remote ravines and windswept plains of the Pacific Northwest for long-forgotten pioneer orchards has rediscovered 10 apple varieties that were believed to be extinct. But the men, who make up the nonprofit Lost Apple Project, won’t see the fruits of their labor this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. Each fall, they collect hundreds of apples from long-abandoned orchards that they find using old maps, county fair records, newspaper clippings and nursery sales ledgers that can tell them which homesteader bought what apple tree and when the purchase happened.

The task is huge. North America once had 17,000 named varieties of domesticated apples, but only about 4,500 are known to exist today. With the 10 latest varieties identified, Brandt and Benscoter have rediscovered a total of 23 varieties. The latest finds include the Sary Sinap, an ancient apple from Turkey; the Streaked Pippin, which may have originated as early as 1744 in New York; and the Butter Sweet of Pennsylvania, a variety that was first noted in a trial orchard in Illinois in 1901.

Read more at APnews