Agricultural production is one of the few industries in which the U.S. remains a manufacturing powerhouse. In fact, much of the world remains dependent on what’s grown in the middle of the United States. Fueled by the needs of a world that will be desperate for food and protein as it nears nine billion people, an entire ecosystem of companies has developed, devoted to making the world as productive as the U.S. is while reducing worry about disease, drought and lack of resources.
Once a year in St. Louis, where there are more plant scientists per capita than any other region in the world, the biggest influencers in global agriculture gather for the Ag Innovation Showcase (www.AgShowcase.com). This year’s Showcase, September 10-12, is framed by invigorating keynote addresses from Sam Dryden of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Boeing CTO Dr. John Tracy in combination with thematic panels to facilitate dialog and deal-flow to help bring agriculture to the next level of productivity and sustainability. This year’s panelists include some of the most distinguished ag executives, investors and development officials from eight countries and organizations such as DuPont, PepsiCo, Venrock and the World Bank who will gather to discuss tomorrow’s ag technologies, the importance and opportunities in emerging economies, and the landscape of ag investment.
It is often the lesser known names, however, whose technological and biological innovations will enable the U.S. and other countries to meet worldwide demand for food as the world population continues to grow.
A global search for top emerging agribusinesses has resulted in a hand-picked group of 23 of the most promising start-ups and research teams from seven countries who are using technology to increase yield, reduce sickness and connect farmers with the information they need.
Of the nearly 60 ideas submitted to the Showcase that are aimed directly at the issue of solving the intractable issue of feeding the world here is a preview of those selected:
A smart phone app from a company in the Netherlands called FOODsniffer that detects infections, toxins, and genetic mutations in plant and animal samples.
The Backpack Farm Agriculture Program (BPF) provides smallholder farmers with an all-in-one backpack equipped with green farming inputs, including some of the best agri-technologies in the world, and combines it with extensive training and access to affordable financing helping farmers achieve semi commercial crop rates of production for 10 crop families. BPF aims train and supply more than 10 million smallholder farmers into “agri-preneurship” and out of poverty by 2017.
Robotics:Six presenting firms offer robotic and software systems to maximize yield and productivity including Blue River Technology that uses computer vision to identify and eliminate weeds and Vision Robotics that will use stereo vision-based robots to pick, prune and perform other tasks on specialty crops.
Learn more about the Ag Innovation Showcase, the speakers and the presenters at www.AgShowcase.com.
The Ag Innovation Showcase is a joint effort of BRDG (“bridge”) Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center and Larta Institute.