Investing in Food

Investing in things we cannot possibly live without: Forbes 25 most innovative ag startups.

Forbes magazine recently published their list of innovative agricultural startups. They range from small companies that are growing food indoors to large partners with major ag companies changing the way soil is managed. From using water wisely to managing dairy health, these companies are leading a revolution in how we farm, deliver and manage our food. Many or providing critical information for small farmers that was available only to those with large budgets, such as access to produce trading platforms. As changing weather along with consumer concerns over food safety put greater demands on farmers, these companies--and those like them--are part of the trend toward healthy, safe foods, and greater productivity for small and large farms. 

  • Data:
    Improving management of unpredictable weather, uncertainty over crop rotations, production or origin of products
  • Genome:
    Using genomic analysis to test quality, develop better seeds, improve soil and herds
  • Information:
    The internet of everything is connecting farmers to each other, markets and information
  • Production:
    Robotics for crop harvesting and locally sourced food
  • Science:
    New ways of managing food safety and measuring herd health, to innovative cultivation of new crops and seeds that meet changing weather patterns.

DATA

Farmers Edge satellite land management This hardware and software startup based in Winnipeg, Ontario, uses satellite imagery and precision technology to help growers identify, map and manage farmland variability. 
FoodLogIQ product safety  7,000 food companies around the world depend on FoodLogIQ’s supply chain analytics to ensure their products are safe to consume. FoodLogIQ recently announced a blockchain pilot that will further enhance its traceability technology.
Plenty indoor farming Plenty is an indoor farming company utilizing machine learning, artificial intelligence and crop science to optimize yields and give produce exactly what it needs to achieve optimal freshness and taste. 
SWIIM water efficiency and crop management Developed over five years with the USDA, the patented Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management system monitors water budgets and computes data to help large-scale farms better manage usage. 
Taranis crop management This Israeli precision agriculture company uses data science and learning algorithms to help farmers manage more than 20 million acres. In May, It is acquiring Mavrx, a leading agriculture aerial imagery provider. 
Understory weather sensors and data Madison, Wisconsin-based Understory makes weather sensors for farms that collect hyperlocal weather data, particularly hail, wind, precipitation, and temperature. The company’s sensors have no moving parts and are solar-powered. The company also provides a real-time data platform and an API solution.

GENOME

Clear Labs food quality Former software engineers and genomic scientists launched this food safety startup to  help brands make sure their suppliers are selling what they advertised, while also testing for allergens and other contaminants.
Indigo Agriculture seeds coated with microbes for higher crop yield Using machine learning and data analytics, Indigo agriculture has compiled a database of which types of microbes work best to promote higher crop yields. The company sells seeds coated with those microbes to farmers to improve the health of plants and increase yields.
Pivot Bio soil health Before the advent of chemical fertilizers, microbes in the soil would provide nitrogen to crops. Using a proprietary process, Pivot has figured out a way to reawaken the genes of those microbes, enabling crops to be fertilized without the need for chemicals.
TL BioLabs dairy cows Think “23&Me for cows”—TL Biolabs provides genomic testing of beef and dairy cattle using proprietary microarray technology. It also offers a cloud-based herd management software.
Trace Genomics identify trace soil pathogens This machine learning startup uses genomic sequencing technology to work with farmers to identify pathogens that may be lurking in their soil, providing an advantage in maximizing yields and preventing crop diseases.

INFORMATION

Farmer’s Business Network seed prices and yeilds With a network of more than 6,500 farms that pay to access its database of seed prices, yields and marketing information, FBN is one of the most dominant forces n the ag-tech space. The company is projecting $200 million in revenue this year, nearly three times its 2017 top line. 
FarmLead grain trading The grain trading industry is taking a hit as commodity farmers sign up with FarmLead, an online marketplace for grain that eliminates the need for middlemen like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland ADM -0.17%. Buyers and sellers can register for free, deals are negotiated anonymously, and broker fees are reduced.
Produce Pay produce marketplace This supply chain startup connects wholesale buyers with produce sellers. The platform fixes cash-flow problems by paying for product the day after it is shipped, rather than the typical 30-to-45-day waiting period. 

PRODUCTION

Bright Farms greenhouses This indoor farming outfit aims to help consumers buy local produce by building greenhouses in the communities it serves. So far, this strategy has resulted in leafy greens that take 80% less water, 90% less land and 95% less shipping fuel than lettuce that is grown out west and shipped east.
Soft Robotics crop harvesting Soft Robotics is exactly what it says on the tin—the company manufactures robotic arms with soft grippers that can be used to gently handle delicate items like fruits and vegetables in processing facilities. 

SCIENCE

Apeel Sciences shelf life Extends shelf life of America’s produce by using lipids from fruits and vegetables to create an extra “peel” for avocados and citrus to slow the rate of spoilage-causing oxidation and water loss.
Concentric microbes for soil health Concentric focuses on making “microbial consortia”—combinations of bacteria and fungi that, when put together, improve crop yields while decreasing the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
EIO Diagnostics dairy health The global dairy business loses $10 billion worth of production every year due to undetected udder infections. Young startup EIO Diagnostics is helping catch these infections using multispectral imaging on iPad-like devices that can be handheld or mounted on automated milking machines.
Terviva new source of vegetable oil An Oakland-based company that is cultivating the pongamia tree, which is native to Australia and India, in Florida, California and Hawaii. The trees produce an oilseed with 10 times more yield than soybeans and have the potential to create a biofuel alternative.
California Safe Soil waste to fertilizer The startup transforms wasted food from supermarkets into a low-cost liquid fertilizer that it sells to farmers in an effort to combat declining arable land worldwide.