Thoughts, observations and writings taken from our day-to-day work and activities, plus news and updates.
Launched just six years ago, the summit’s become an influential get-together for those involved in the fast-moving agritech sector. It’s created a forum to share best practice, case studies and exciting new ideas.
This year’s theme was ‘Turning Disruptive Technology into Business Strategy through Partnership and Collaboration’. It examined the business models and partnerships required to turn new ideas into large-scale, sustainable solutions for growing and distributing food in a transformed global food system.
A hallmark of the agtech industry is the generation of innovations outside the large organisations. Seed, plant protection and supply companies have dominated the global agricultural industry for the last 40 years. They remain important innovators in their respective sectors. But they’re ‘outsourcing’ their R&D function by identifying, investing in and buying start-ups whose ideas strike a chord.
Bayer is one such company practising this form of “open innovation”. So it was interesting to hear an interview with Dr Bob Reiter, head of R&D for Bayer Crop Science. He opened up on agtech investment, R&D trends and what kind of innovation Bayer is sniffing out.
Since the acquisition of Monsanto, the combined company will spend more than $2.5bn on ag research. This sets a new record for R&D spend in agriculture. But despite the 7,000 scientists that this sum funds, the company recognises that innovation can happen elsewhere. Initiatives such as Grants4Targets, Leaps by Bayer, and Bayer Growth Ventures range from providing resources and guidance, through to making investments to support the development of ‘ideas so big that they could change the world’.
At Agro Mavens, we particularly liked Dr Reiter’s ‘top tips’ for agtech. We believe they’re spot-on for anyone involved in the sector, irrespective of whether they’re looking to catch the attention of their investment funds!