10 start-ups destined to accelerate the future of agritech

16 Feb 2017

From left: Judges Jon Bradford, programme adviser; Aidan Connolly, CIO of Alltech; and David Hunt, co-founder of Agrilarity. Image: Dogpatch Labs

10 start-ups have been selected for Pearse Lyons’s Alltech accelerator at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin.

Two Irish start-ups MagGrow and Moocall, are among the 10 selected to join Irish billionaire Dr Pearse Lyons’s Alltech accelerator at Dogpatch Labs.

10 companies out of 183 start-ups from 38 countries were selected for the late-stage agritech accelerator.

‘We were especially looking for ideas within emerging technologies like drones, sensors, internet of things, artificial intelligence – and I’m happy to say that we got good ideas within all those areas’

Alltech accelerates agritech

The start-ups hail from Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Ireland Indonesia, UK and the US, with average funding of $2m each (collectively $30m).

The accelerator is a 15-week, mentorship-driven programme aimed at collaborative learning and seeking new business and partnership opportunities.

The start-ups will make a presentation on the main stage at One: The Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington, Kentucky in May.

Crucially, the start-ups will gain access to insights from Lyons and some of the most influential people in the agritech business.

Louth-born Lyons began his career as a brewer in the 1970s and his work led him to Kentucky.

With just $10,000, he established Alltech in 1976. He used his own garage as a site, working on the principle that yeasts and enzymes could be used in animal feed.

Alltech became the fastest-growing company in the global animal health industry through innovative technology, creative marketing and strong branding.

Today, the company employs 5,000 people across 100 manufacturing sites and records annual revenues exceeding $2bn.

The future of agritech is all about innovation

Pearse Lyons, Alltech

Alltech founder and president Dr Pearse Lyons speaks at the opening of One: The Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. Image: Alltech

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Dogpatch Labs managing director Patrick Walsh confirmed that the accelerator begins in Dublin next week.

“We were bowled over by the phenomenal response to the opportunity to join the accelerator. These are already established companies with employees and funding, and it is a reflection on Alltech and how well regarded it is in the agribusiness as an innovator.

“Agritech is one of the most exciting areas of innovation, but it is really hard for a start-up to break into this market and I believe Dr Lyons wants to change this,” said Walsh.

The start-ups will receive free space at Dogpatch, a €15,000 cash fund and tech perks worth €300,000 from companies such as Google, Facebook, SoftLayer and Amazon.

“We had a great selection week in Dublin and I’m really impressed with the startups’ ideas, engagement and talent,” said Alltech CIO Aidan Connolly.

“We were especially looking for ideas within emerging technologies like drones, sensors, internet of things, artificial intelligence – and I’m happy to say that we got good ideas within all those areas.”

Here are the 10 agritech start-ups selected for Alltech’s accelerator.

MagGrow (Ireland)

This company uses a magnetic spraying system to reduce drift by more than 80pc and deliver superior coverage by using finer droplets, a key challenge for conventional spraying systems.

Moocall (Ireland)

A wearable that accurately predicts when a cow is going to give birth, communicating this back to the farmer via text message.

EFishery (Indonesia)

A fish feeder that can automatically sense the fish’s appetite and adjust the amount of feed given.

SkySquirrel (Canada)

A crop analytics company that develops drone-based technology for monitoring crop health, with a primary focus on improving crop yields and reducing costs at commercial vineyards.

AgriWebb (Australia)

A mobile herd and farm management application developed for cattle, sheep, and wool producers.

Hargol FoodTech (Israel)

This company optimises methods and technology to enable the rapid growth of large quantities of grasshoppers in captivity.

Tevatronic (Israel)

A start-up that develops a technological solution to make crop-growing fully autonomous, from irrigation and fertilisation aspects. The system is capable of deciding when and how much to irrigate.

Agrilyst (US)

This company helps greenhouse operators to run their operations more efficiently by pulling in data from sensors in the greenhouse, as well as information about crop yields and other metrics.

Greengage (UK)

Greengage provides market-leading LED lamps to serve the farming industry with a simple and highly effective solution.

Alesca Life (China)

A start-up that developed a farming-as-a-service concept, which allows scalable, localised food production for our commercial and retail customers.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years