From farm management apps to platforms that monitor bees, here are nine agritech start-ups from Ireland and around Europe to look out for.
This week, the small town of Ratheniska in Co Laois hosted one of Europe’s biggest outdoor events – the National Ploughing Championships 2022.
At the event, Irish agritech companies and start-ups were highlighted as part of Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena – with Pearson Milking Technology and Micron Agritech winning awards for their on-farm innovations.
Innovations such these are playing a significant role in the future of agriculture, revolutionising farming through digital transformation and finding ways to boost sustainability.
Here we take a look at agritech start-ups from Ireland and around Europe that are changing the way we engage with agriculture – from apps that monitor fruit trees to tech that can alter plants’ gene expressions.
It is no secret that bees are essential to human life on planet Earth. Cork-based ApisProtect is trying to revolutionise commercial beekeeping using the power of AI and IoT technologies. Its sensors placed inside hives collect data on temperature, humidity, CO2, sound and movement to give beekeepers crucial insight into the health of the honeybees.
Co-founded and led by Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, a graduate of University College Cork, ApisProtect has been featured as a SiliconRepublic.com Start-up of the Week. Earlier this year, it struck a partnership with Vodafone that will upgrade its beehive monitoring system to last longer and cover wider areas.
This Dutch start-up describes itself as a crop intelligence company aimed at fruit growers and breeders across the world. Using deep learning and AI sensor technologies, Aurea has developed a platform to help farmers monitor each individual tree in an orchard with precision – in contrast to the traditional blanket approach used in fruit growing.
With its tech being used across Europe, North America, New Zealand and South Africa, Aurea is on a mission to create orchards of the future by “unlocking the potential” of each tree. Earlier this month, it picked up fresh funding from Pymwymic’s Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II to scale its offering.
Born out of research from Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin (UCD), CropBiome is an agritech start-up that sources, selects, ferments, characterises and tests microbes that are formulated into biological products such as seed dressings for use in agriculture. Based at NovaUCD, the company aims to help farmers reduce dependence on chemicals and fertilisers for growing healthy crops, even in drought conditions.
Less than two months ago, CropBiome raised €1.3m from investors of the Halo Business Angel Network to expand its team and invest in its products for farmers.
Based in Magherafelt, Co Derry, CropSafe is on a mission to revolutionise farming practices across the globe using satellite imagery. It has developed a platform that helps farmers manage their crops by creating alerts and using real-time modules to monitor everything from weather to crop health. Conditions can be monitored remotely through its network of global weather stations and orbital satellites and users can access data from the web or set up alerts from the CropSafe app.
Co-founded by John McElhone and Micheál McLaughlin, the agritech start-up recently established an office in Los Angeles and raised $3m in seed funding to boost its growth in the US.
Kildare-based equine start-up EquiTrace was a winner at last year’s Innovation Arena Awards. The company has developed technology that tracks a horse’s health, identity and whereabouts with microchip scanners. Its platform is designed to work even in environments with limited internet availability, such as stud farms.
Founded in 2019 by husband and wife team, equine experts Kevin and Jennifer Corley, EquiTrace is supported by Enterprise Ireland. Last September, it secured a partnership with Merck Animal Health to take its smartphone app to the US market.
Another previous winner at the Innovation Arena Awards, Cork-based FodderBox has developed a computer-controlled fodder production system that can be installed on farms for feeding livestock. Founded by Ella Goddin, FodderBox sustainably produces around one tonne of fresh fodder every day using pure water that is constantly recirculated. It uses no fertilisers and aims to help farmers reduce both water consumption and carbon footprint and enhance animal nutrition.
FodderBox was one of nine agritech start-ups that were selected for the 12-week inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme last year.
This year’s overall start-up winner at the Innovation Arena Awards, Micron Agritech, is a TU Dublin spin-out that provides rapid on-site parasite testing for grazing animals. Its Rapid Liver Fluke Test allows farmers to easily test livestock for liver fluke through an app that uses AI to deliver results within minutes. This can help farmers dealing with livestock liver fluke infections – which often incurs high treatment expenses, reduces yield and raises animal welfare concerns.
Last year, Micron Agritech was one of two winners of a Welsh hackathon focused on the agritech sector, and a year before that it raised €500,000 in seed funding backed by animal health company Bimeda, agritech venture capital fund The Yield Lab Europe and Enterprise Ireland.
This French agritech start-up has developed a platform that can precisely regulate a plant’s gene expression without altering its DNA. It achieves this by using micropeptides, a family of proteins naturally produced by plants to respond to stress and regulate their development. Micropep pitches itself as a company that aims to “protect the future of agriculture” using artificial intelligence and peptide biochemistry.
Founded in 2016 as a spin-off of plant research lab LRSV and Toulouse University, Micropep raised €8.75m in a July Series A funding round led by Fall Line Capital.
Fashioning itself as a one-stop shop for everything farm management, xFarm is a platform “by farmers for farmers” that is bringing digital transformation to agriculture. Based in Milan and led by CEO Matteo Vanotti, xFarm’s AI platform allows farmers to manage various aspects of their business – from plantation and logistics to equipment and decision processes.
Last month, the agritech start-up raised €17m in a Series B funding round led by Swisscom Ventures, with participation from Neva SGR, Emerald Technology Ventures, NovaCapital, Grey Silo Ventures and United Ventures.
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