The world will need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to sustain a world population expected to grow to 10 billion.
Globally, over 1 billion people are employed in agriculture and 22 million in food and drink industries.
Until recently agriculture technology (AgTech) startups struggled to get the funding, support, manufacturing, and test facilities needed to build the technology and develop the applications that could boost food production while making it more sustainable.
However the sector had a breakout year in 2014, receiving over $2.36 billion of investment across 264 deals spanning the agriculture value chain.
Surprisingly, this $2.36 billion figure has now surpassed well known sectors like fintech ($2.1 billion) and cleantech ($2 billion).
This shift can be traced to a confluence of three underlying trends:
- a groundswell of macro economic trends that tipped the balance between supply and demand in agriculture;
- shifting consumer tastes; and,
- new hardware technologies that freed computation from the desktop and automated multivariate collection of big data.
One initiative looking to further develop AgTech is Farm2050 launched by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Flextronics Lab IX.
Farm2050 is a collective that will support AgTech startups with capital, design, manufacturing, and test farms to try out their inventions.
They are inviting people to submit ideas and pitch to them right now. Farm2050 is open to any ideas that boost food production with the onus on how robotics, the ‘Internet of Things‘ and data science can advance the ways farmers produce food.
Farm2050’s approach is different to many; the collective format includes a range of companies, rather than a select few who sit on a board, and is designed to let organisations get involved with catalysing AgTech innovation beyond just offering money.
Farm2050 will harness the expertise of the collective, in areas such as supply chain management, big data, cloud infrastructure and sensor technologies, to help the companies it backs.
So, have a look around AgriApps.ie and see can you find inspiration from some of the stellar apps already built or maybe identify an opportunity that no one else is looking at.
Farm2050 is rightly looking to the future but the time for AgTech is now.