On November 19th, Cleantech Group will host a webinar, Farming in the Cloud – Agriculture Meets the Internet of Things, on the emerging innovation landscape in agriculture. Joined by two start-ups on the cutting edge of technology in this sector, Granular and Precision Hawk, the conversation will provide an in-depth understanding of winning business models and technologies, venture capital’s role in advancing the sector, and showcase some of the new companies we’ve been tracking in i3.
The market opportunity in agriculture is indisputably large, with nearly $471mm invested in the first half of 2014 alone. So, why is agriculture — one of the world’s oldest industries — now being disrupted at such a massive scale? Climate change has played a large part. Deservedly so, as intense weather events driven by climate change – including higher seasonal temperatures and prolonged rainy seasons – will affect agricultural yields and drive up the global cost of food. Population growth and resource constraints, however, are arguably more pressing drivers of the current agricultural revolution. In a world expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the global demand for food is expected to increase exponentially. Population growth, concentrated mainly throughout Asia and Africa, will result in a ballooning urban population and increase competition for agricultural land. Scarcity of land and water resources has now necessitated a shift away from business as usual in the agricultural industry.
Yet in the face of these seemingly insurmountable challenges, technological advancement within agriculture has improved greatly to address declining yields, improve efficiency and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This past quarter, investors continued to flock toward agricultural technology, expressing a particular interest in unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced field treatments. The rise of drone software used to analyze geospatial and image data saw an uptick in investment this quarter, including DroneDeploy and Airware. Advanced field treatments, used to develop more environmentally friendly methods for pest control, also experienced high interest from investors this quarter. mOasis, a developer of soil treatment designed to improve water and nutrient efficiency for higher crop yields, received a Series B round from The Roda Group. Meanwhile, Oxitec, a breeder of genetically modified insects that disrupt the lifecycle of traditional crop pests, brought in a $10.3 million growth equity round.
These companies are just a preview of what will be covered in our upcoming webinar, Farming in the Cloud – Agriculture Meets the Internet of Things, on November 19 at 11am PST/ 2pm EST. To register for the webinar, click here. To learn more about recent investments and trends in agriculture, stay tuned for our upcoming 3Q14 Quarterly Innovation Monitor.