The Incubyte team digs a little deeper into the agritech scene…
2 years ago, our Facebook feeds were full of amazing agritech stories; robotic farmers that could finally solve the planet’s food crisis, a hydroponic farm hidden 33 metres below London, urban farms popping up on our cities skylines. The rate at which innovation is taking place in the food and agriculture sector doesn’t seem to be slowing down which brings a raft of opportunity for those working in technology and farming.
Headquartered in Silicon Fen, Incubyte is surrounded by innovative businesses working in agritech. Here’s a few of them…
Yagro is an online marketplace and commercial analytics platform, confidentially connecting farmers with a national database of suppliers. With quick access to quotes, farmers have a real-time indication of costs and approximate delivery times made available on their smartphone, laptop or tablet which makes purchasing processes that bit slicker. The Yagro team also offer a host of analytics drawn from their deep access to market data, giving farmers and suppliers powerful insight to drive better business.
Investment to-date: circa $500k
Key milestones achieved: Product launched 2016, early revenue and customer traction, financially self-sustaining
What’s in the pipeline for Yagro?: Right now we’re focused on growing traction for our core marketplace and analytics features, although we’re working on an IoT product which would further automate the purchasing process through sensors on farm. Watch this space…!
HQ: Cambridge, UK
Gareth Davies, CEO told us:
When we started in 2015, there was maybe one company in the US talking about commercial and procurement software for farms, aimed at shaking up some of the cosy arrangements in the traditional supply chain. Now I get people from across Europe, South America, and Asia reaching out to me to learn lessons and tackle their own markets. There is more and more awareness of agritech and this particular space.
Otherwise I get very excited by new gene editing techniques – some really clever people are looking at ways to tailor the genetics of seed so we can personalize them with the traits required in a specific field with specific weather conditions. That will be a game changer, not only in efficiency, but in taking some power away from the big seed companies.
Aponic have designed and developed a modular, aeroponic farming system that uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture yet gives 30% faster Growth and 30% larger yields.
Key milestones achieved:
- UK Patented Product
- Multi Award Winning
- Chosen to represent UK at World Expo
- Chosen to represent UK on Zambia and Canada Trade Missions
- Now working with large fresh produce growers internationally
- Working with High Street Brands to deliver urban farming solution globally
- Bidding for Sustainable growing projects in South America
- Rejuvenating self-sustaining growing projects for several island states
- Providing viable diversification for farmers with unused barn space in the UK and other countries
HQ: Soham, UK
Founder, Jason Hawkins-Row comments on the future of agriculture:
There is lots of scope and great technology coming forward from robotics and smart AI data usage. We have taken advantage of this and are offering an ‘automation ready’ product and business model in the Aponic Farming System. We are working closely with institutions and individuals to make this a reality.
For many years the farming business model has relied on farmers taking all the risk and getting little rewards so that ground level innovation has been too expensive and too great a risk. Now it is becoming innovation lead. It is starting to embrace novel farming methods and true sustainability concepts that start not just with environmental issues but is built on sustainable business models too.
Innovation money has always been hard to attain for disruptive technologies. The better Agri-Tech groups are raising the profile of such innovators and enabling some great collaborations that are moving things forward across the board.
Axomap is a Patent Pending remote sensing application that is able to identify potato tubers during harvesting so they can be separated into batches that have similar dry matter and dormancy characteristics. Incubyte will be speaking with founder, Keith Geary, in a couple of months as the business enters into commercial trials & research – more to follow in due course!
Herdsy is a Herd tracking and analytics company based out of the world famous of city of innovation in Cambridge. Herdsy is one of the few true tracking companies globally, tracking everything form Cashmere Goats in the cold deserts of Inner Mongolia to Rhino in the sun-drenched savannah of South Africa. Though only founded in 2016 Herdsy has seen phenomenal growth, winning awards and opening up three international offices this year alone in China, South Africa & Ireland. Herdsy’s’ trajectory as a company is set to continue as it pursues its mission, “Farming for Everyone” believing that Agri technology should be available to all at an affordable price. We have gone from pretender to contender in a very short time!”
Investment to-date: 120,000 bootstrapped currently seeking to raise Venture Capital with the right partners to fund our expansion
Key milestones achieved: Multi Million pound deals signed in China and South Africa that will make Herdsy the global leader by animals tracked in under 2 years. We have also won an award in China for the most innovative Agri product in 2018
What’s in the pipeline for Herdsy? Currently we are opening our Irish Office based in Waterford and are opening up offices in China & South Africa this year alone. We are creating new products for a mass market launch & we are actively looking for partners in overseas markets, Canada has currently caught our eye.
HQ: Cambridge, UK
We spoke with Richard Hobson, Founder of Herdsy:
What innovation in farming do you see coming next?
Mankind must produce more food in the next 50 years than he has in the last 10,000 without harming the environment like we have in the past. The Farm of tomorrow will look nothing like the farm of today, Sensors, Robotics, drone technology and precision farming will revolutionise farming and farm techniques. A Tsunami of innovation is coming and I don’t think a lot of people understand how big a change is on the way.
Farming is a volatile business; how was securing investment?
You know Farming isn’t as sexy or hot like AI or Crypto is at the moment, so it is a harder sell to raise money. The good thing is that everyone, has got to eat and so farming is a global business that is ripe for innovation, I mean the Beef market in China is worth $81bn alone, we live in a hungry world that is only getting hungrier, so investors can do very well in adding an Agtech company to their portfolio as its sustainable and pretty much recession proof.
Their goal is to leverage cutting edge technology to empower farmers around the world with information that they need to make the important decisions about their farm. Smartbell is a fully managed end to end solution for livestock farming providing tracking, behaviour-based anomaly detection and welfare metrics.
Investment to-date: £190K
HQ: Cambridge, UK
Key milestones to-date: Raising investment & GCGP LEP Agri Tech grant in Nov 2016, Innovate UK grant in 2017, first paying customer this year.
What’s in the pipeline for Smartbell? Scaling up sales through strategic partnerships that are in the works. (pictured: Veena Adityan, CEO))
Rob Precious, Founder of Incubyte, comments:
“It’s clear to see, from the five startups above, the tangible buzz around the agritech sector. It’s exciting! Incubyte will soon have an Aponics live plant wall here in Waterbeach, so members and visitors can see first glance the type of innovation taking place on our doorstep. It’s worth noting the financial support available to agritech startups; Government and Local Enterprise Partnerships are keen to facilitate research in the form of grants, or provide business development opportunities with international partners. It’s certainly positive to see the level of investment at play, and means the founders and their teams can concentrate on providing quality solutions to address a variety of socioeconomic challenges.”
If you are working in the agritech sector and looking for business support or financial investment, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org