And the winner of GROW agri-tech business plan competition is….. Farming Data. A mobile trading platform that could lift subsistence farmers out of poverty was the judges choice. For the first time the audience had an opportunity to tip their own winner with money from the ‘bank of Agri-Tech East’. The audience choice was SoilSense, an aerial soil sensor that can provide a detailed map of moisture content of the soil, even through vegetation.
50 per cent of the world’s food is grown by small-holders and 40 per cent of global food production relies on irrigation – so the two organisations are providing solutions to big challenges.
The GROW finalists were:
Agronomex – trading a platform which addresses the 4m tonnes of edible food lost before it reaches the farm gate in the UK. The London-based company considered the buy-side issues and have built logistics into the offering.
DataGranary – a data management service that rewards farmers for providing data and cleans and prepares data ready for use.
Farming Data – a Cambridge-start-up developing a software system that allows sub-Saharan Africa farmers communicate with potential buyers using SMS messaging on a basic mobile phone, creating a market for their produce.
Soil for Life – a specialist soil health system which helps farmers prioritise interventions and is compatible with existing farm management packages.
SoilSense – a Bristol based company developing an aerial soil moisture sensor that can provide a detailed map of the water status of a whole field in minutes.
GROW is the UK’s only agri-tech business plan competition, established by Agri-Tech East to stimulate entrepreneurship in the industry.
Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East, thanked the participants and the judges.
“Thank you also to Innovate UK for its support and also to the organisations that have provided support prizes. The event was kindly hosted by Agrii at the Throws Farm Technology Centre.”
Support prizes show the breadth and depth of support for innovation in the region:
- Six months’ free office / lab space at Norwich Research Park
- A place on the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning’s Ignite programme at Cambridge Judge Business School
- Six months’ access to the “Green Inc” incubator at the Future Business Centre Cambridge (FBCC), including access to all in-house events, and six months’ 1-2-1 business support and mentoring from the Business Advisor at the FBCC
- One year’s free membership to Cambridge Cleantech (including access to all members’ events)
- One year’s free membership to Cambridge Network
- Three months complimentary lab / office space at the Innovation Hub in Soham, supported by technical experts at NIAB
- Six months’ part-time membership of ideaSpace City
- IP work to a value of up to £2,500 from J A Kemp jakemp.com
- 20 hours of hotdesking and meeting space per month at Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise (RoCRE) for six months
- Complimentary Annual Associate Membership of Norfolk Network
- Expert support from the Institute of Environmental Analytics to advise on developing data technology solutions
- Six months of startup support from Hethel Innovation
- Dedicated use of a desk in the co-working suite for six months at the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre
From left to right: Simon Bowen (BBRO, judge), Maciej Klemm (SoilSense, winner), Dallan Byrne (SoilSense, winner), Rob Alston (AF Finance, keynote speaker), Nicholas Wigdahl (Data Granary, finalist), Pascale Martin (Agronomex, finalist), Jonathan Tole (Soil-for-Life, finalist), David Langton (Agrii, judge), Belinda Clarke (Agri-Tech East), David Godding (Farming Data, winner), Howard Partridge (Innovate UK, judge) [click to enlarge]