AgTech startups vie for attention at 10th annual Ag Innovation Showcase

Transformative agtech startups will pitch for industry acknowledgement, from gene editing tools that reengineer food sustainability to mobile apps that rethink global supply chains.
Fruit and Veg magazine
September 28, 2018
By Fruit and Veg magazine
An app that measures grain quality via mobile camera, a virtual shared economy for direct farmer-to-consumer purchasing, and new protein sources from recycled seeds are just a few extraordinary innovations highlighted at this year’s Ag Innovation Showcase.

The Ag Innovation Showcase attracts the best and brightest in food and ag startups from around the world. This year, the event will host 14 innovators on the main stage, who will each pitch their solutions to an elite group of food and ag industry and investment professionals in hopes of generating interest, partnerships and funding.

“The technologies taking the stage next week really bring to life the 10th year’s theme of ‘farm to plate’,” says Rohit Shukla, founder and CEO of Larta Institute, which has produced the event over the last decade. “All of the companies truly exemplify commercial potential, and we are eager to see their projects up close.”

The early-stage technology companies to be featured at this year’s event were selected from more than 50 submissions from around the world, based on their potential for industry transformation, and cover a wide range of ag and farming issues, presenting solutions to current challenges across the sector.

Leaders from these startups will share how they are strategically approaching areas as diverse as virtual marketplaces, plant protection, soil health and plant nutrient management, precision agriculture, health and nutrition and the distribution of food.

Farmers Market goes digital
For many urban dwellers in the U.S., a typical weekend morning may include a stroll through the local farmers market to grab their fresh, locally-sourced produce. But now, consumers can access farmer produce anytime, thanks to a wholesale local food distribution mobile app created by FreshSpoke, an Ontario-based start up.

The company is on the cutting edge of an economic revolution by taking the concept of a “shared economy” to the next level, opening up food supply chains while making it possible for revenue to flow directly to the wallets of farmers and other producers.

Snapping grains, Not selfies
The process for evaluating grain quality has traditionally taken five to 10 days, but can now be done in only five minutes.

Argentina-based agtech innovator ZoomAgri has revolutionized grain and oilseed quality determination by bringing AI technology to a simple mobile phone app that captures grain images, analyzes the image in a database, and provides users with grain information in real time.

At the showcase, ZoomAgri will be sharing the latest on its upcoming launch of two new cutting-edge products, ZoomBarley and ZoomSpex, which focus on the detection of (spacing) barley, corn and soy grains. “ZoomAgri ́s well balanced mix of engineers, former business executives, and an agronomist allows us to provide solutions from several angles and unique views,” says cofounder Jaap Rommelaar.

Gene editing for the future of food
The food and ag industry are under pressure to produce higher and more nutritive yields, while at the same time struggling to combat herbicide resistant weeds and pests that ever increasingly tax their fields.

New advancements in seed engineering and gene stacking may offer a better way to grow with more resilient, positive outcomes. Plastomics is a St. Louis-based gene editing company that has created a unique technology that delivers specialized traits to the chloroplasts of plant cells (tiny energy factories that convert the sun's energy into storable energy-rich molecules of sugars). This technology allows for easy combination of useful traits, reduced development times and costs, and overall improved outcomes for farmers, consumers, and the environment.

“At Plastomics, we want to ensure that the future population has access to nutritional food to support a healthy life,” says Sharon Berberich, Plastomics CEO and a founding showcase committee member whose been involved with AIS since its first event in 2009.

Over its decade-long history, 97 per cent of showcase presenters have been introduced to new partnership opportunities, and 83 per cent found new investor leads. Presenting companies have collectively raised more than $1.1 billion after their Showcase debut.

“We’re especially proud to be able to present these innovations to our audience, selected via a rigorous jury process,” says Shukla. “All of the companies solve real problems facing the most critical of sectors, and have great relevance to buyers, investors and partners.”

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