Soil degradation, climate change, a rising population: farmers and food producers worldwide are being forced to meet the biggest challenges of this generation head-on. The need for new technologies that will help growers move away from traditional farming methods and toward more resilient, sustainable practices has never been more urgent. Daring to enter an industry dominated by incumbents, exciting start-ups are now rising to the challenge by offering solutions that promise high yields with a low environmental impact.
The team from the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit has identified 15 agtech start-ups they think have the potential to disrupt the farming industry as we know it. Offering breakthrough solutions to a range of agricultural challenges, this year’s crop of hand-picked talent covers everything from smart robotics and biotech to solar research and precise supply chain tracking.
Start-ups featured at World Agri-Tech in San Francisco include:
- Agragene (USA) commercializes eco-friendly products using CRISPR-based genome engineering. The company has developed technology for hybrid seed production platforms and to target crop pests. Agragene has created Knock-Out™ sterile male spotted wing drosophila which will eliminate non-organic pesticide use in berries and stone fruits. This product will reduce pesticide residues in multiple food crops and is cheaper for growers, non-toxic to farm workers and consumers, and completely safe for beneficial organisms.
- AgNext Technologies (India) provides instant quality assessment and process monitoring technologies for agri-businesses and government institutions to curb the problem of food quality, safety and traceability. It aims to save food value chains from contamination and enable data-driven business decisions for growing, procuring, storing and consuming food. AgNext’s data platform, Qualix, gathers both physical and chemical data to provide quality analysis on the whole crop value chain for organisations.
- Agrynex (USA) is the successful developer of patented enzyme-based crop protection products that deploy a naturally occurring antimicrobial system to protect crops where and when it counts. This broad-spectrum solution is effective against bacterial and fungal pathogens, eliminating the threat with no or fewer conventional agrichemicals. Its products are currently vegetable seed treatments, with row crop seed treatment and foliar applications in development.
- AgTrace (Brazil) is a traceability system that ensures transparency, information reliability and reduces response time to issues within the food value chain. It focuses on food safety solutions, ensuring consumers get the information they are looking for. AgTrace uses onboard computers installed in combines, planting machines and trucks to trace information inside and outside the farm. Post-harvest, storage, transportation, shipping and delivery are traced through every step.
- Arugga AI Farming (Israel) is developing an autonomous ground robot which will treat and monitor individual plants in greenhouses. The company is launching its first module – mechanical pollination – to first address the market segment of greenhouse-grown tomatoes. The Arugga robotic platform will eventually encompass several solutions: pruning, pest & disease detection (including treatment) and yield prediction. Arugga recently completed the design of its first prototype and will soon test it in commercial settings in Australia.
- Augmenta (Greece) builds a device that retrofits to tractors, sprayers or spreaders and automates major agricultural operations (e.g. N fertilization) using real time multispectral computer vision and AI. The mission of Augmenta is to maximize the efficiency of every inch of every acre using the minimum required resources and protect the environment along the way.
- Dot Farm Solutions (Canada) is a fully autonomous, diesel-powered platform, designed to support a wide variety of implements to carry out a growing list of farming operations. Its U-shaped frame easily integrates with any implement built to be Dot-Ready by loading the unit on to its chassis to become one with the platform.
- Farmbot (Australia) is a leading agtech company in the Internet of Things (IoT) of Agriculture. The company monitors and reports on farm water ecosystems delivering near real time reporting on water trends, consumption and alerts. As water is the lifeblood of all agricultural endeavours, a detailed understanding of its usage helps farmers make better management decisions around asset utilisation, resource allocations and carrying capacities.
- G2V Optics (Canada) is an emerging leader in smart lighting, monitoring, and data science solutions for advanced cultivation and solar research applications. G2V is committed to supporting controlled environment agricultural producers of fruit, spice, and medicinal crops to grow more using less – by maximizing output, chemistry, and efficiency with the proprietary Engineered Sunlight™ platform.
- MoA Technology’s (UK) ambition is to discover the next generation of herbicides, with new modes of action, from both natural and synthetic sources. It has developed three proprietary herbicide discovery platforms including the MoA GALAXY, MoA TARGET and MoA SELECT. These are all powerful in their own right, but when used in combination it offers the opportunity to revolutionize the herbicide discovery process.
- ONO Exponential Farming (Italy) is the first “Seed-to-Pack” VF platform, a patented lean technology for hydroponic cultivation. All claims have been recognized for novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability: no human for operations, flexible (vegetables, insects, algae), scaleable and hyper efficient. Crops, insects and algae move automatically inside the ONO module according to the growing requirements managed by ONO AI Engine: it changes the current VF paradigm, from product to process.
- Phylagen (USA) leverages microbes of indoor and outdoor environments for supply chain traceability. The company has used the technology to trace ships back to ports, shoes back to factories, coffee and wool back to farm, among other applications. Phylagen helps companies unlock a new layer of transparency, allowing them to maintain strong brands, loyal customers, and efficient supply chains.
- Phytoform Labs (UK) is changing the way crops are bred for agriculture. It is using next generation data science to discover new traits and implementing them using genome editing. It is doing this to solve problems now and, in the future, making agriculture more sustainable and improving the nutrition of crops for consumers. Its vision is a design led approach to develop new crops that are built to the specifications of the user and consumer.
- Stable (UK) protects food and farming businesses from the risk of volatile commodity prices. With over 3,000 indexes available on its global platform, clients can create a price insurance policy that closely corresponds to their physical risk exposure, in their local currency. Built by farmers, powered by AI, backed by Lloyd’s of London.
- Varigen Biosciences (USA) redefines how small molecule natural products are identified and optimized. Rather than screening the metabolic output of cultured bacteria, Varigen biosynthesizes novel secondary metabolites in engineered cell factories following the synthetic plan encoded in DNA isolated from a selected environment or microbe. The company accesses all of nature’s chemical diversity in pursuit of novel bioactive leads to produce drugs, agrichemicals, biopesticides or added value chemicals.
Further start-ups will include the winner and finalists of the pre-summit Radicle Challenge by Corteva at World Agri-Tech, as well as three early-stage companies chosen to speak in the UK Breakfast Briefing hosted by the Department for International Trade. Hundreds more innovators will be among the 1500+ delegates at this year’s World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, having taken advantage of special rates for start-ups to maximize opportunities for networking and partnerships with industry leaders and investors.