About the Summit
The 2017 World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco set new records in attendance, and formed the anchor event of the newly created Rethink Ag & Food Innovation Week. The summit attracted over 500 delegates for three days of intensive debate and networking, including an Innovation in Action tour, a start-up Demo Day, break-out workshops and more than 1000 1-1 meetings. Roundtable discussions generated some of the most advanced thinking in agri-tech: See below our Top Ten Take-Aways.
Top 10 Takeaways
- 1 Mega Mergers: As the ag industry moves into a state of very high concentration, sourcing innovation will become highly competitive and second tier players will have to step up in order to stay competitive.
- 2 Corporate/Start-Up Partnership Models: Early engagement is essential to build a product that is focused on a real market need and aligned with the strategic goals of the corporate partner. The greatest barrier to successful partnerships is process delays, such as negotiating NDAs.
- 3 Next Gen Plant Technologies & Crops: The four bio-technologies with the greatest potential to add value in food and agriculture are gene editing, consumer-driven plant breeding, soil microbiome management and biological pesticides.
- 4 Gene Editing Applications: Technology adoption will ultimately be driven by consumer acceptance, so the industry needs to develop an effective dialogue with consumers in order to gain a “social license” to apply gene-editing technologies to food production.
- 5 Soil Health: With many farmers renting land, there is little incentive to invest in soil health. Rapid ROI for the grower is critical, but soil health needs to be looked at as a long-term investment.
- 6 Supply Chain Disruption: New technologies with the greatest potential to disrupt the ag supply chain include traceability from field to plate, the convergence of data and genetics, and robotics, driven by the scarcity of skilled labour.
- 7 Predictive Analytics & Forecasting: Powerful predictive and forecasting analytics have the potential to transform the food and agriculture industries. The challenge is to use this data to improve on-farm efficiencies, as well as to drive change throughout the supply chain.
- 8 Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics: Today’s robotic and automated technology is good at executing well defined (open-loop) tasks, but the next evolution will be the advancement of true artificial intelligence to a maturity that can support real-time decision making and performance optimization.
- 9 Latin America: Opportunities for entrepreneurs include farm connectivity, weather data analytics, soil analysis and integrated farm management packages.
- 10 Consumer-Driven Change: The ag industry has been too focused on talking about the science of the technology (e.g. GMO) vs. telling a story. Consumer education through storytelling will be increasingly important in agtech and must start from the farmer.