This month we’re starting a new monthly report series called “Innovating Sustainability.” Building upon our popular SDG Forecast reports from 2020, each monthly publication will promote innovations in the area of sustainability related to a specific industry.
This month’s report focuses on Sustainable Agriculture and covers three areas: crop production, livestock farming, and irrigation. Aiming to further demonstrate how Valuer can help large corporations find more sustainable technologies and business models that fit their operations, each report includes data from the Valuer platform, market analysis, trending technologies, case studies of innovative companies, and more.
Moreover, the publication explains how Valuer’s platform uses AI to find innovation hotspots within an industry and choose companies that match customers’ specific needs.
Innovating Sustainability: Agriculture
According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, 'To be sustainable, agriculture must meet the needs of present and future generations, while ensuring profitability, environmental health, and social and economic equity.'
The current threat mankind currently faces is that the agricultural sector is facing unprecedented challenges from an increasing demand for food brought by a growing population, more frequent and extreme natural disasters due to climate change, as well as the over exploitation of natural resources. These challenges are just a few examples of how they can undermine the world's capacity to meet the demands of the present and in the future.
That said, many companies have taken strides to address these major challenges, with new innovations and technologies arising leading to a competitive business landscape within both the startup and corporate stage.
Organizations That Do A Great Job Of Addressing Sustainable Agriculture
The full version of the Innovating Sustainability report (available for download) includes five case studies: three corporations (Nutrien, Vion, and Netafim) that do a great job of engaging with sustainability goals and two startups and their technologies explained in detail (Geopard and NextProtein).
Hoping to provide inspiration, this blog post lists more startups, corporations, NGOs, and governments that work toward achieving the goal.
INNOVATIVE startups & SMEs
GeoPard Agriculture has created a precision farming platform for enterprises and individuals. The platform uses open-data sources, such as satellites, to generate a spectrum of information about farmlands. With the help of viewers with different color distributions, users can visualize and analyze crop yield, vegetation health and distribution, leaf chlorophyll production, soil content, water distribution, and other related indices. Additionally, it offers prescription maps to make spraying, seeding, and fertilization practices more effective.
Founders: Dmitry Dementiev and Dzmitry Yablonski
NextProtein tackles resource scarcity and food waste with a portfolio of insect-based protein products intended for animal feedstocks. The company breeds the Black Soldier Fly, which in a working space of 100 square meters can produce the same amount of protein as 100ha of soy.
Founders: Syrine Chaalala & Mohamed Gastli
Nordetect has developed a lab-on-a-chip solution that empowers farmers to make data-based decisions. Powered by biosensors, hardware, and a data management system, Nordetect helps farmers accurately check their soil’s nutritional content, enabling them to optimize fertilizer application, yield increment, and save money.
Founders: Keenan Pinto & Pala Sehgal
Fort Collins, THe United states
Founded by a team of three Colorado State University microbiologists with a shared passion for sustainable agriculture, Growcentia has developed a method to utilize natural microbes to improve plants' nutrient availability. Growcentia's tailored approach enables growers and farmers in various climates to improve their soil health and plant health, providing maximal yields with a minimal environmental impact.
Founders: Colin Bell, Scott Wiley, Matthew Wallenstein & Richard Conant
Founded as a spin-off of the VIB research institute and its partner universities UGent and KU Leuven, the Belgian startup Aphea.Bio develops a technology that can make biopesticides out of microorganisms, offering an organic alternative to chemical pesticides. The company is currently focused on products that help reduce fertilizer application (biostimulants) and control fungal diseases (biocontrol agents) sustainably in maize and wheat.
Founders: Steven Van Den Abeele & Isabel Vercauteren
Berkeley, The United States
Pivot Bio aims to replace environmentally damaging synthetic nitrogen fertilizers with simple nitrogen fixating bacteria. To this end, the company has developed a proprietary technology based on engineering principles and data science to isolate beneficial microbiomes and evolve beneficial traits.
Founders: Karsten Temme & Alvin Tamsir
Davis, The United States
BioConsortia is the parent-company of BioDiscovery, specializing in the discovery and development of natural microbial solutions that improve plant traits and increase crop productivity. The company achieves this through its patented AMS platform which facilitates the development of tailored microbial solutions for numerous crops.
Founder: Marcus Meadows-Smith
Wageningen, The Netherlands
Micreos utilizes the natural properties of bacteriophages to tackle the emerging problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The company's endolysin technology enables it to target only harmful bacteria while preserving the billions of beneficial bacteria essential for human, plant, and animal health.
Founders: Hans-Poul Veldhuyzen van Zanten & Mark Offerhaus
Algama is a sustainable food-tech startup that aims to harvest the potential of algae to create food that's good for both people and the planet. Algama hopes to achieve this by leveraging its scientific and technical expertise to develop algae-based alternatives to animal protein.
Founders: Alvyn Severien, Gaetan Gohin & Mathieu Goncalves Alves
Boston, the United States
Motif FoodWorks strives to facilitate the sustainable food revolution by helping plant-based food brands improve their products' taste and texture. To this end, the startup uses a combination of genetic engineering and microorganism fermentation technology to brew key protein and fat ingredients that give animal products their appeal.
Founder: Jonathan McIntyre
Glendale, the United States
American startup Alpha Foods is on a mission “to create a convenient vegan alternative for all meat-based comfort foods.” Alpha Foods aims to achieve this with its frozen plant-based meat products for flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan consumers. The startup is intently focused on developing products that provide excellent taste and health benefits, coupled with a positive impact on the environment and animal welfare.
Founders: Cole Orobetz & Loren Wallis
Nuritas aims to revolutionize human healthcare by leveraging the potential of peptide-based therapies. The startup has developed a proprietary AI-based platform that has the ability to accelerate drug discovery in a fast and accurate manner, bringing significant cost savings. Nuritas’ technology can provide novel solutions to partners across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, food, health and wellness, dermatology/personal care, and animal and plant health.
Founder: Nora Khaldi
Houston, the United States
ANIZOME is building a therapeutic platform focused on the commercial application of microbiome research in the field of animal health. To achieve this, the startup developed a DNA sequencing technology to transform cutting-edge research insights into commercial remedies for improved animal health.
Founder: Caroline Popper
New Canaan, the United States
By isolating a new bacteria strain from cows’ gut microbiota, Bactana developed a novel medication that acts as a healthier alternative to antibiotics administered to livestock. The startup claims that by switching from antibiotics and hormones to Bactana’s solution, farmers can increase the livestock’s growth, weight, and milk production and reduce their mortality. Since the product is based on naturally occurring bacteria, it is sustainable and healthier not only to animals but also to human consumers, simultaneously minimizing the chances of developing antibiotic resistance.
Founders: John Kallassy & Rodrigo Bicalho
OneSoil aims to streamline modern agriculture with its AI-powered precision farming platform. To achieve this, the startup leverages satellite imaging technology and machine learning to create an indicator of a plant’s health by comparing the values of absorption and reflection of red and infrared light.
Founders: Sasha Yakovlev, Usevalad Henin & Viacheslav Mazai
bedford, the united states
By developing solutions that facilitate automation in markets such as food & beverage, manufacturing, e-commerce, logistics, and reverse logistics, Soft Robotics aims to liberate people from "dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs". When designing its products, the startup's main focus is to develop solutions that are less complex than conventional systems and can be integrated with any robot.
Founders: Carmichael Roberts & George Whitesides
Delft. the netherlands
Atmos is on a mission to "empower professionals across all industries to effortlessly gather geospatial data from the sky, enabling them to make more informed decisions, efficiently and effectively." To facilitate this, the startup has developed its flagship product, a drone named Marlyn, that combines the "flexibility of a multirotor with the efficiency and speed of a fixed-wing."
Founders: Dirk Dokter, Joost Bourman, Ruud Knoops & Sander Hulsman
Saint Louis, the United States
NanoGuard Technologies aims to eliminate food waste with its proprietary High Voltage Atmospheric Cold Plasma (HVACP) process that pasteurizes food surfaces to prevent spoilage. The startup believes that its technology has the potential to transform a number of industries, including grain, meat, poultry, seafood, brewing, water treatment, spices, nuts, and fresh products.
Founder: Mark Hochwalt
By developing products and services that reduce the risk of foodborne infections, the French startup Novolyze aims to make food safer. To accomplish this, Novolyze uses a combination of the latest technologies in microbiology, digital, IoT, and machine learning to create solutions that help the food industry produce safer food while ensuring compliance with international standards.
Founder: Karim-Franck Khinouche
San Francisco, The United States
Spiio is a cleantech startup that helps the green Industry improve sustainability and productivity by providing actionable data from plant sensors in the field. The company has developed a smart sensor that gathers data on temperature, light, nutrients, and soil moisture and sends the collected data to a mobile app.
Founders: Chris Thorup & Martin Dal
Locations of Startups and Corporations around the world
For the Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien, sustainable agriculture is the focus of its entire organizational culture. The company aims to empower growers to maximize the impact of their resources. For this purpose, Nutien has developed a comprehensive strategy, centered around its product line and a global network of retailers, as well as cooperation with governments, regulatory agencies, and NGOs.
At the forefront of Nutrien’s sustainability strategy is its portfolio of over 1,700 products that significantly reduce nitrogen loss in air and water. Nutrien also offers digital tools such as the data platform Agrible, which provides farmers with field-level predictive analytics. In addition to business benefits, the solution enables farmers to measure their performance and track their progress in line with the Field to Market® sustainability metrics. Agrible also allows the supply chain members to compare the environmental impact of various growers to satisfy their personal sustainability goals.
Another prominent aspect of Nutrien’s sustainability programs is education. The company advocates the 4R Nutrient Stewardship System (4Rs), a science-based farming approach that aims to improve environmental protection while also enhancing the farmer’s production, profitability, and sustainability. Nutrien advances these principles through several organizations, such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification for Retail facilities and the 4R Designation for crop advisors in North America, the 4R Solution Project in Africa, and Fertcare in Australia.
As part of its ongoing education programs, in 2019, Nutrien trained approximately 900 growers in South America. The participants partook in 47 training sessions on soil fertility, plant nutrition, plant physiology, and best practices in nutrient and crop input management.
President & CEO: Mayo Schmidt
Boxtel, THE Netherlands
Vion is one of the leading meat processing companies, serving over 100 million daily customers. With a global reach, the company is well aware of its impact on the environment and has developed a robust strategy to minimize its effects. To this end, Vion launched an initiative to empower customers to make informed choices regarding the carbon footprint of the products they buy. Starting in 2022, the company will designate its products with a CO2 label detailing their footprint based on the supply chain data. As part of the initiative, Vion aims to include at least 20 pig farms in 2020 and include all the Good Farming Star farms by 2021.
The company aims to motivate as many farms as possible to collect data regarding their CO2 footprint, sharing the results between the farmers and providing them with knowledge regarding best practices to reduce their environmental impact. Vion will facilitate this initiative through JoinData, a co-operative that promotes secure data exchange in the agricultural sector.
Vion has also developed a strategy to ensure the efficient use of resources. The company promotes the adoption of circularity in the agricultural industry, developing new methods to incorporate safe, processed animal proteins in animal feed.
The company also maintains a low water footprint, upholding the use of soy certified by Round Table Responsible Soy (RTRS). Vion makes sure that all pigs raised under its Good Farming Star program participate in the certification program. A particular emphasis is placed on the continuous improvement of its organic pig farms under the label De Groene Weg. All suppliers are EKOcertified and use the EKO-code as a scoring instrument on twelve topics, including energy, soil, manure, biodiversity, and circularity. Each supplier that is a part of this program must focus on at least two objectives a year, leading to consistent improvement.
CEO: Ronald Lotgerink
Tel Aviv, Israel
Originating from the need to farm the Negev desert in Israel, Netafim is a producer of precision irrigation systems with a long history of maximizing the value of scarce resources. Due to its expertise in drip irrigation, the company directly impacts the global effort to curtail the effects of climate change. In addition, Netafim has been careful to implement sustainability into its business processes, maintaining strict controls over its resource consumption and environmental impact.
The company is committed to eco-friendly product design, aiming to minimize resource waste in its supply chain operations. Netafim also launched a recycling initiative, salvaging more than 25,300 metric tons of used plastic drip lines since 2010.
Another aspect of Netafim’s strategy is to empower local communities to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. The company provides donations and equipment in several countries globally. Some initiatives include developing community gardens and providing young people with knowledge regarding industry and technology, and sustainability. For example, between 2018 and 2019, Netafim’s Learn2Live program in South Africa provided 40 preschools with drip irrigation equipment for small vegetable gardens.
Netafim is also keenly aware that modern agricultural technology such as drip irrigation solutions is too expensive for many smallholder farmers. Thus, to help them implement this technology, they offer several financing channels. For instance, Netafim joined forces with Rabobank to participate in the Agri3 Fund, which aims to catalyze $1 billion in public finance to promote sustainable agriculture and reforestation. Moreover, between 2016 and 2019, Netafim has provided over $100 million in structured financing loans to farmers and dealers worldwide, mainly in Africa, Latin America, and Europe.
President & CEO: Ran Maidan
Sustainability is here to stay
Agricultural sustainability is a growing concern for the general public because of its considerable use of land, water and other natural resources. With the world population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 will put increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to produce enough food and resources to meet the growing demand. As a result, sustainability is of utmost importance than ever before and is reflected in the general public's concern where 81% of consumers claim to care about sustainability in agriculture.
Companies are not taking notice of consumer demands and have started to implement sustainaible practices and promotion of these said practices to the general public. In addition, companies are now putting innovation in the sector a top priority and are constantly seeking for collaborations and partnerships that aim to alleviate the agricultural challenges mankind will face in the years to come.
We believe that technological breakthroughs and creativity are critical to reducing the time and cost necessary to achieve the SDGs. Moreover, we believe that blending purpose with profit to achieve more sustainable operations promises companies a competitive advantage that meets the expectations of modern customers, employees, and investors.
But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to aligning with SDGs. This is why it’s essential that each organization addresses the challenge from a perspective that makes the most sense to its strategies.
By finding startups with innovative technology that complement a corporation’s unique needs, the Valuer AI platform can help organizations adopt the most compatible sustainability-related solutions.