Needless to say, agriculture plays a major role when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It’s a part of feeding and fueling our society and is vitally important. However, it’s also an industry under pressure. Under pressure to meet evolving needs, under pressure to adapt to constantly changing socioeconomic and geopolitical contexts, and under pressure from an environmental standpoint – to overcome climate challenges and reduce emissions simultaneously.
The significance of these issues is reflected in the EU-Taxonomy as well, providing investors with even more reasons to invest in more sustainable agricultural technologies.
There are multiple challenges towards sustainable agriculture in the future, and in the end, they need to be combined in some way. Strategies to improve the digital infrastructure and the skills of the people involved can help to ensure that the goals are achieved. Among the many technologies that can be used in the digitalization of agricultural business, remote sensing and data evaluation are gaining a lot of attention. In addition, more sustainable pest control on farmland is one of the hot topics to secure the natural foundations of our existence.
For these reasons, we think the following 10 agritech startups have a bright future, and have the potential to positively influence society in the long term.
CropBiome: Founded in Ireland, CropBiome sources, selects, ferments, characterises and tests microbes (organisms) derived from wild plant species that are closely related to mass-produced wheat and other cereal crops. The microbes – which are natural and unharmful to plant and animal life – are used to create seed dressings, which coat the raw seeds of the mass-produced crops, and produce healthier crops as a result. These seed dressings can improve crops’ performance – even in challenging conditions such as drought or when fertiliser use is reduced. It means fewer chemicals need to be used, crops are more resilient and soil health is improved. In turn, this brings economic benefits to farmers and health benefits to us all. The startup raised €1.3 million this summer.
Agreena: Founded in 2018, Agreena started out life as a digital trading platform, intended to make grains trading more democratic and efficient. It has grown to become one of the first platforms across Europe to facilitate issuing and trading of carbon certificates for farmers and is now serving 13 countries in Europe. The AgreenaCarbon programme follows the crop year and thus allows the farmers to reap the value of their climate efforts on an annual basis. It acquired Hummingbird Technologies earlier this year, strengthening the company’s value chain and position within the agricultural sector for soil carbon certification.
MAKABI: Founded in 2019, Croatian startup Makabi has developed a 3-in-1 encapsulation technology for plant protection, nutrition, and controlled release of bioactive components as an innovation of green chemistry for sustainable agricultural production. It reduces environmental pollution, mitigates climate change, and increases the biopotential of produced food. With this trinity, it fulfils important criteria of the EU-Taxonomy is set to make impactful changes in the agricultural industry.
SAIA: Indoor farming offers a controlled climate and protection from the changes outside. This Dutch startup believes that for indoor growing to be accessible to everyone, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will be required to assist workers and empower growers in optimally controlling their farms. Since SAIA’s inception in 2017, it decouples indoor farming from a reliable pool of quality workers. With this, the transition to autonomous indoor farming is on the verge of a breakthrough.
qubeto: Data acquisition is a huge element when it comes to testing pesticides and chemicals before their entry into the market and their application on the field. Since its launch in Münster in 2020, Qubeto combines automated data acquisition with innovative experimental design and AI-driven data analysis to revolutionise today’s substance screening process with the goal to create better products for a sustainable and biodiverse future.
Global Biodesign: Using natural enemies for pest control is an efficient way to reduce the use of pesticides on the fields. Since 2017, Global Biodesign has managed to enhance the efficiency of pest biocontrol applications in agriculture and forestry production. Their device protects and releases the natural enemies of the pests (wasps or fungi) in a reliable and more efficient way than any other state-of-the-art devices. In doing so, the whole protection strategy costs go down. This startup was born in Brussels.
Aurea Imaging: Based in Utrecht, this startup is aiming to help build the orchards of the future through crop intelligence tools. Founded in 2016, the tech basically enables fruit growers and farmers to monitor and treat every single tree individually, avoiding the ‘blanket’ approach currently taken by growers. The aim is to enable a future where AI-powered crop intelligence optimizes agronomic management and controls implements such as sprayers, pruners and spreaders – powering the precision orchards of the future through digital agronomy. This in turn fuels a transition to more environmentally friendly practices and helps make a more sustainable food chain. The startup raised new funding a few months ago.
eAgronom: Founded in Tartu in 2016, this Estonian startup was founded to help farmers reduce the administrative load, often a paper-based process. Their solution developed into one of the largest farm management software solutions in Europe. eAgronom already helps over 1,500 agribusinesses (covering over a million hectares of land across Europe) to achieve higher yields and income with technology and consultancy services. It also developed a farming-based carbon credits platform to transform the voluntary offset market and accelerate the transition to net zero. We chatted with CEO Robin Salouks earlier this year after the startup raised €6.4 million.
IrrigationNets: The number of farmers dealing with salinized groundwater problems in need to provide fresh water to their fields will increase within the next couple of years. For this reason, Berlin-based startup IrrigationNets technology converts salinized groundwater into fresh water. The installation can be turned on and off as needed to meet the water needs of various crops. In addition, the product is a highly cost-efficient alternative to desalination plants and enables farmers to become independent of outside freshwater supplies.
Nordetect: Improved food quality and accessibility in affordable ways that drive profits and reduce chemical emissions are on the list of consumers and food producers. This is exactly the mission of Danish innovators Nordetect’s intelligent nutrient testing system, founded in 2016. Using UV-VIS spectrophotometric methods, the AgroChip, optical analyzer, and SaaS platform quickly give in-field insights into water and leaf tissue samples, allowing for real-time nutrient dosing adjustments. Saving not only resources and money but also providing a path for customised plant-by-plant farming.
By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!