Vertical Farming, Technology and Hot Investment Deals Revealed at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit

George Eustice, MP and Minister of State For Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at DEFRA

The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit 2017 welcomed industry trailblazers from around the world to uncover the most thrilling innovations in agricultural technology and to generate new connections among the investment and global agribusiness community (17-18 October, London).

Hosted by Rethink Events, the summit unveiled a variety of emerging industry themes including next generation breeding technologies, edge computing, robotics and automation, and the rise of vertical farming.

Agricultural technology has been one of 2017’s hottest investment sectors – attracting over $1.1bn in the first half of the year alone according to AgFunder’s mid-year report. According to Tom Green, Chairman of UK-based farming group Spearhead International, today’s farmers are looking for new solutions to deliver cost reductions and yield and quality improvement from new genetics.

However, the challenge for farmers is choosing which solutions to adopt. Green says: “With finite resources in terms of both finance and expertise, farmers need to calculate which solutions will deliver maximum benefit to their bottom line.”

George Eustice, MP and Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at DEFRA, highlighted that the industry needs to fuse traditional farming with modern genetic science and when the UK leaves the European Union, it will continue to work collaboratively with its neighbours to find innovative agricultural solutions.

Tropic Biosciences, a UK agri-tech company that utilises cutting-edge genome editing technologies to develop high-performing commercial crops, had the opportunity to present its business to the Minister.

Gilad Gershon, Chief Executive Officer of Tropic Biosciences, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to meet the Minister and describe our efforts of implementing genome editing and plant breeding technologies and how this can be a powerful tool for improving global food security.

“We want to continue solving disease and supply-chain challenges through non-GMO genetic innovation and it was great to see this highlighted during the summit. The event was a tremendous experience as we met potential new clients and key industry figures who have made a huge impact within the agricultural sector.”

Among the many new partnerships and contacts made at the event, ToolGen Inc, a biotechnology company specialising in genome editing signed an MOU with PlantEdit, an agri-biotech startup from RebelBio’s portfolio. PlantEdit addresses the current global agricultural issues in a sustainable, eco-friendly and consumer oriented manner using innovative next-generation genome editing tools from ToolGen, along with new transformation technology to make sustainable foods available for the future.

Indoor vertical farming has also seen a wave of start-up companies in the field receive huge financial backing from investors. The event hosted a half-day workshop attended by UK food retailer Marks & Spencer and leading vertical farming operators including Aero Farms, Shenandoah and Infarm.

Victor Friedberg, Co-Founder of S2G Ventures and Founder & Chairman of FoodShot Global who chaired the workshop commented: “There is appetite in the market for seeing one of these systems succeed at scale, however, in the next five years there needs to be a transition from microgreen and herb commodities to higher value crops if the sector is going to grow.”

Rethink Events is hosting the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco on March 20 – 21 2018. Global agribusinesses, investors and technology start-ups will discuss the emerging technologies that are set to transform our food supply into more sustainable, affordable and nutritious systems; how start-up companies are changing traditional agriculture and redefining the supply chain of the future, and the new business models and partnerships that will emerge after consolidation of the ag majors has taken place. For more information, please visit www.worldagritechusa.com