01Environment-independent cyber agriculture and intelligent farming
Technology-enabled, geographically dispersed, environmentally sustainable food production
Agriculture continues to profoundly impact our environment and resources as we cultivate, process and distribute across the planet. The challenge agriculture faces over the next few years is to feed a growing, increasingly urban population while dramatically decreasing its ecological footprint - in short, to grow more with less impact.
What will change
Emerging technologies such as connected sensors, machine learning and automation accelerate the development of a new kind of environment-independent agriculture. Instead of a global supply chain distributing mono crop harvests from distant farms, soil-free vertical farms dispersed throughout urban environments will shorten growing times and delivery distances while using a fraction of the land, water, and soil of traditional farms.
Emerging technologies to watch
Detective sensors will collect data from plants and feed this into systems monitoring production. This information will be collected from decentralised farms into centralised services that can learn from the results and share back learnings. Modern farming techniques such as aeroponics, aquaponics and hydroponics will mean crops can be grown anywhere, bringing production closer to populations and improving food security.
Opportunities to consider
9m2 of vertical farming produces harvests similar to 280m2 of horizontal farming at an astonishing yield rate of 95% - traditional farming averages a yield rate of 55%. These new approaches have the potential to meet food demands in all climates while shrinking land usage by 99% and using 95% less water. Corporate VCs such as Google Ventures & Softbank are already investing in this area. Technology and intelligent solutions will be an enormous business opportunity as the digitalisation of agriculture starts to accelerate.
LED vertical farming units can enable locally automated food preparation, impacting production value and shortening supply chains.
Shorter supply chains shape logistics, pushing last mile deliveries.
Distributed vertical farm networks will encourage localised renewable energy production.
Early adopters of sustainable agriculture methods have the potential to impact food production across world markets.
Retail value chains could shift as produce is locally grown and delivered directly to consumers.
Vertical farming smart machinery breakthroughs may have synergies with vertical warehousing. Similarly, indoor climate control, LED lighting and ventilation breakthroughs may have many cross-industry applications.
Urban smart cities can connect consumers’ homes and growing facilities to ensure harvests of right plants at the right time.
Deep-dive into this bet
Total market 2017
Agriculture market of around $ 12 trillion.
Look for these 2024
Methodology: A high-level view gathered from various openly available data sources on market size & compound annual growth rates. To simplify comparison between analysts sources, we’ve removed differences in market details by calculating an estimated average for total market size 2024 and average CAGR for selected time period. This allows us to gain “correct enough estimates”. Unless linked directly to one source, each of our market estimate has included 2-8 sources e.g. WEF, CB Insights, Mordor Intelligence, Markets & Markets, Research & Markets, Grand View Research, PWC, Allied Market Research, McKinsey, Market Watch
1) Smart agriculture
$20,6 bn / CAGR: 15% (modern innovative technologies in soil analysis, crop management, cultivation and harvesting of crops)
2) Vertical farming
$8,6 bn / CAGR: 21% (aero, hydro, aquaponics including lighting, control, hardware)
Top 18 unicorn sniffing smart money VCs, 1376 investments 2018-2020
Source: Crunchbase Pro, accessed: 03/20, research of company description terms between 01/2018-02/2020, investment types: early stage investments by top 18 unicorn sniffing smart money VCs, n=1376 investments
3% of sustainability, 2% farming, and 7% biotechnology.
Leveraging new hardware and software technology with sensors to monitor and automise optimal plant care-taking with fertilisers, light, air quality, and other parameters. Collaborating and competing with new players entering from surprising areas.
Finland based, vertical farm solutions with the world's highest crop production per m2 and m3.
Google Ventures invested $90 million in Series B round
Softbank has invested $200million in Series B
Finland based, offers a turn-key solution - vertical farms with combined heat recovery system.
Suomen Siemenperunakeskus (aeroponic potatoes)
Developed a way to grow aeroponic potatoes combining high tech and agriculture.
Finland-based mobile-controlled vertical farm, utilising Fujitsu sensor and remote control technologies. (contract value 2 million euros)
Solar Foods created a revolutionary way to produce natural protein by using renewable electricity and air.
LED (light-emitting diodes) lights enable adjusting the wavelengths to be suitable for different plants paving the way for profitable indoor farming. The next step in lighting will be lasers for plants, which are even more efficient than modern LED growth lights.
Although cloud computing is nothing new its role will be redefined with the define its the advanced storage architecture that links cloud with edge.
AI/ML Artificial intelligence (AI)
Computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence by using a combination of Machine Learning (ML) toolbox of algorithms and learning rules from data.
A microcontroller unit (a small chip) is embedded with the ability to perform AI/ML computing offline based on sensor inputs without needing a cloud connection.
Using video image as a source for identifying, analysing and acting (objects & faces to provide access, personalise, charge, recommend, etc.)
Both partially and wholly autonomous robots in applications such as logistics, storage, and iRRobondustrial settings. Robotics Automation could be used for harvesting and transporting plants in vertical farms, making it more safe for humans.
Indicators of change
Massive interests in circular economy across industries
Farmer’s income is around 40% lower than non-agriculture income that can appeal in finding solutions that can increase revenues and profits.
Sustainability integral in business offerings: Sustainable LSC, planet and earth focused design
Pressure for companies to set & act on environmental pledges
Climate quilt impacts on behaviour and purchase decisions, e.g. flight shame
Climate strike Nov 2019 around the world
Extinction Rebellion - movement marching against potential mass extinction
More than half of global population is mostly on plant based diet
The interest has also increased among areas where meat has been strongly incorporated in nutrition.
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VP, Emerging Business
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