7 agritech and food start-ups revolutionising the world of farming

14 Nov 20192.26k Views

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From a marketplace for ugly fresh produce to a device that helps farmers scan animals for parasites, these start-ups should be on your radar if you are interested in agriculture.

As pointed out many times before, Ireland is a hub of agritech innovation, due to the nation’s wealth of talent and expertise in science, technology and engineering, paired with our historical focus on agriculture.

With the country’s mid-east region ranked as one of the world’s top 10 start-up ecosystems for agritech, and an ongoing €20m European agritech project based out of Waterford, there’s barely a corner of the country not engaging with agritech in some shape or form.

This week, we’re taking a look at some of the food and agritech start-ups changing how we interact with farming, both in Ireland and beyond.

Farmeye

A spin-out of NUI Galway, Oranmore-based Farmeye is a visual, map-based soil management system that forms a digital chain of custody from the soil to the supermarket. It can be used to maintain a record of the soil management and fertility profile for every field on a farm.

The company was co-founded by farmer, scientist and agricultural consultant Dr Eoghan Finneran, marine scientist and food entrepreneur Brendan Allen, and software engineer Joe Desbonnet. It has been backed by the NDRC.

Farmeye provides agricultural and environmental consultants with the means to manage and authenticate the environmental sustainability of the nutrient management of every field on their farmer clients’ farms. With this, they can ensure farmers remain compliant with EU environmental directives and save money by applying only the required nutrients via fertilisers.

Full Harvest

Founded in 2015, Full Harvest is a B2B marketplace for ‘ugly’ and surplus produce. The San Francisco-based company was founded by Christine Moseley, who wanted to allow growers and farmers to get the most out of a harvest, while helping food companies save money by bringing farm excess to market.

In the US, there are strict standards for retailers regarding the shape and size of produce that they will stock. Each year, around 9bn kg of edible produce goes to waste from farms in the US alone because it does not meet these standards, according to the company.

Named as one of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2019, Full Harvest has raised a total of $11.5m to date, with backing from Spark Capital, Radicle Growth and Wireframe Ventures.

Cotter Crate

Limerick-based agritech start-up Cotter Crate took home the prizes for Best Agri-Engineering Start-up and Best Overall Start-up at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Awards this year.

Founded by two brothers from Abbeyfeale, Jack and Nick Cotter, the Cotter Crate facilitates the quick, safe, easy and accurate administration of vaccines to lambs from three weeks of age.

While the product received a number of accolades this year, it has yet to officially launch to market, with a launch expected in 2020.

ImpactVision

ImpactVision was founded by Abi Ramanan and Gustav Nipe in 2015. Now based in San Francisco, the company is building a new standard for food safety and quality using hyperspectral technology.

The machine learning company aims to improve food quality, generate consistent, high-quality produce and reduce waste. ImpactVision’s software provides real-time insights about the quality of foods and is aimed at food processors, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Using non-invasive technology, the start-up’s system can rapidly detect the presence of foreign objects, can determine the freshness of fish and the ripeness of avocados. Another one of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers, this start-up has worked with retail giant Tesco and has been backed to the tune of $2.8m with investors such as Acre Venture Partners, AgFunder and Maersk Growth.

Anuland

Another Limerick-based agritech start-up, Anuland has won a number of awards this year, including the top prize at Cork’s National Dairy Show and two further awards for the company’s FieldSense device.

Founded by David McDonnell, who began his career as a farmer working on the family’s 400-cow dairy and poultry business, Anuland was established to help farmers optimise their limited resources and encourage sustainability.

Anuland’s FieldSense monitoring station helps farmers track fertiliser usage and daily growth rates of grass, without needing to step foot on the farm. The device collects soil and environmental metrics, then transmits the data to an insights platform in the cloud, generating recommendations based on the data it has collected.

CropSafe

One of the 12 finalists in the Invent 2019 competition for start-ups in Northern Ireland, CropSafe was founded by Micheál McLaughlin and John McElhone when they were secondary school students in Magherafelt, Co Derry. The two young men come from families with agricultural backgrounds and saw first-hand how devastating the results of crop disease can be.

Together, they built CropSafe, an application that uses satellite images to detect diseases in crop fields. The app can detect abnormalities using its online dashboard, which is continually improved by machine learning algorithms. With this information, farmers can pinpoint their sprays, reducing the impact that these chemicals have on the environment, while saving money.

Micron Agritech

Micron Agritech is a start-up founded by Tara McElligott, Sean Smith, Jose Lopez and Daniel Izquierdo Hijazi, who are four students from TU Dublin. Together, the team has developed a device called Tástáil, which made it to the final round of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards.

The start-up’s device is a portable kit that farmers can use to test their animals for various parasites, making the testing process more mobile, while significantly reducing the time it takes to return results. With Tástáil, the farmer inserts a sample into the device and, within minutes, they receive a text message with the animal’s updated status.

Knowing the health status of their animals immediately, farmers are better positioned to save time seeking treatment or purchasing medication before the rest of the herd can be infected.

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com