Turning Disruptive Technology into Business Strategy through Partnership and Collaboration
PRE-SUMMIT – March 18, 2019
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Director, Rethink Events
T: +44 (0)1273 789989
The landscape of global agricultural R&D is changing rapidly, creating an opportunity for unconventional and cross-industry partnerships. If tomorrow’s challenges will be solved not by individual institutes or private industry but by creative and powerful collaborations, what new set of partnerships will exist going forward? How will these help accelerate our ability to sustainably feed a large and growing population?
Gene-editing, microbials and synthetic biology will create a powerful cocktail of new opportunities in agriculture and the potential to produce crops that are more nutritious, more resilient and with less environmental impact than ever before. N-fixing maize is just one of the wholly grails discovered in agriculture that could lead to a substantial reduction in fertiliser use in corn. Is eradication of pests and diseases next? What collaborations, partnerships and investment are needed to make the next science fiction a reality?
• Digital agriculture is still in its infancy but what new technologies are on the horizon that could revolutionize the farm? How will these drive larger profits for farmers? How efficient could field operations become?
• What efforts are being made to build out platforms and roll up new technologies to create more comprehensive solutions for growers?
• Downstream consumers are demanding greater insight into where their food comes from and what’s in it. How are food companies accessing technologies to gain greater visibility of their supply chain? What does corporate oversight look like at the farm level and how will this drive investments on the farm?
• Agtech has matured to the point where it is now enjoying greater interest from growth capital and allocation of non-specialist funds. What is the appetite for investing amongst these groups?
• How will larger funds impact the sector and future scaling opportunities for start-ups?
• To what extent is increasing convergence among the life sciences driving this trend – or are we seeing general interest in this space? What will it take to attract more growth funds?
• Opportunities exist to roll up digital and biological technologies in agtech to create larger, more viable entities. What role could private equity have in bringing more complete and transformative solutions to market?
• AI has now taken a quantum leap forward and is redefining the impossible. In the future AI will be affordable and accessible to everyone. How is ML set to transform the agricultural industry?
• What segments of the industry are going to be commoditised? How are companies applying technologies and training machine learning models?
• How are leading translational research facilities around the globe positioning themselves to underpin the innovation ecosystem?
• What collaborations are being created within industry to accelerate the development of innovation from pilot to full-scale commercial application?
• How are corporates benefitting from early engagement with research? What different partnership models are being used and what early successes have there been?
• Labour is a massive challenge for speciality crops and the industry urgently needs a viable solution. Many prototype robots exist today, but how do you get beyond proof of concept to a product that has a commercial application?
• What investment and talent are needed to bring robotic technologies to the next stage and which industry heavyweights can access these resources?
• Growers are at the front line of agtech innovation. What is their experience of using technology to date and how can start-ups navigate the adoption process?
• What challenges are companies having in demonstrating product value to growers? Do we need to rethink the methodology?
• Corporates are actively acquiring and building out technology platforms to create more transformative solutions. What has been their experience of introducing new solutions to smaller, specialty crop growers?
• To fully harness agtech’s promise to growers, what collaborations are needed between academia, corporates and innovators to translate technologies to the field faster and smarter?
How can we, as an industry, have the greatest impact and deliver on climate and sustainability goals? What is the moon-shot thinking that needs to come next?
• In the 1920s the average tenure of Fortune 500 companies was 67 years – today it’s just 15 years due to the pace of innovation. How do companies innovate today to drive future growth? What factors are shaping both internal R&D strategies and external partnerships and investments? How does the need for talent drive this strategy?
• How are companies positioning themselves to support start-ups? What infrastructure is needed to help start-ups scale and grow fast?
• How are start-ups connecting with corporates? What are the challenges in bringing agile solutions and mindsets to more traditional industries?
• How are entrepreneurs redefining the innovation landscape? What new business models are being pioneered by start-ups to bring more cohesive, complete and transformative solutions to the market vs individual solutions?
Healthy soils can help mitigate rising carbon levels in the atmosphere and play a complex but crucial role in the health of all living things. This role is still poorly understood – so what have been the biggest breakthroughs in our understanding? Could we one day link the nutritional content of crops to our understanding of the soil microbiome? How are solutions being brought to the market? What are the challenges in delivering these solutions at scale? How will imagery and digital insights accelerate this process?
New discovery platforms, screening tools and libraries backed by bio-informatics and AI are accelerating the development of new chemistry-based solutions for growers that provide alternatives to traditional approaches to fighting disease and pests. How are these approaches and solutions different from traditional chemicals? What investment opportunities do they present?
• New payment and insurance platforms are being rolled out that have the potential to tackle old embedded issues of pricing transparency, supply chain finance for commodities and access to technologies for farmers. How are these platforms being applied to address specific local and regional challenges? What are the opportunities for scaling these platforms and accessing new markets?
• How do these platforms empower farmers and the supply chain to better manage risk? What disruption could this have on the future of food production, retail, distribution and trade and how could it ultimately enable farmers and growers to gain a competitive advantage?
• What are the investment opportunities that are attracting corporates and VCs? How are the challenges around adoption impacting their investment strategy?
• What should start-ups be aiming for to attract investment? What are the right thresholds from a revenue and profit standpoint? How are corporates thinking about financial returns?
• Corporate venture capital activity in agtech has expanded dramatically in the last 12 months. What venturing models have had the most success?
• How will consolidation impact the exit strategies for start-ups and investors? What activity are we likely to see in the next 12 months? Could 2019 see the first ever IPO in agtech?