Over the past 18 months I have published a number of investigative stories on the Future of Food and Agriculture. These touched on some of the (now many) start ups and companies vastly improving the efficiency of the existing agricultural and food production system – like water and soil sensors, drones and field robotics. As well as the emerging start ups and research institutes using technology to fundamentally transform the way food is grown and produced. A term I refer to in my own research as Ag 2.0. Examples of Ag 2.0 include indoor vertical farming, seed and plant technology, and clean meat, egg and dairy start ups like Mosa Meats, Hampton Creek and Perfect Day (previously branded Muufri).
Both categories of ag and food technologies are, of course, crucial for the longevity, health and sustainability of our global food system. Especially as the global population is set to tip 9.7 billion by 2050. But it has always been the players in the Ag 2.0 space that have particularly floated my boat, since these are the true movers and shakers of agricultural technologies. They are those that (at least in my mind) have the greatest potential to wildly disrupt the very fabric of our existing inefficient, environmentally damaging and (some would say) ethically perverse system of field and animal based agriculture. Completely bypassing the animal, the field or the bad seed (excuse the pun) in the first place.
Source: Rosie Bosworth 2016
They also carry the largest threat to ag incumbents across the farming world - yet appear to be wildly dismissed by the bulk of existing agricultural producers. Detroit carmakers and Kodak anyone? Unsurprisingly, any discussion of the threat thereof by technology researchers and journalists like myself, is often considered as nothing more than scaremongering by conventional linear thinking naysayers.
So, about 9 months ago I decided to systematically research, map and categorize the emergence of technology players in Ag 2.0 ecosystem. And the supporting infrastructure thereof. This started with my interest in (what was the) a small number of animal protein players. But soon I released that I was only beginning to scratch the surface of the players entering the world of Ag 2.0! Clean diary and meat alternatives were just the beginning. My research surfaced other disruptive start ups from lab made wine, coffee, seafood and cheese producers to insect and algae protein manufacturers. Not only this, but next-gen sustainable and ethical plant technology and seed health, and a host of technology enablers, like Ag.20 research Institutes, funding consortiums were coming out of the woodwork. Faster than I could keep up with.
Even since starting my database a mere 9 months ago, so much has happened and I have no doubt this first Ag 2.0 infographic obsolete before no time. There will also undoubtedlybe a number of key players missing from this preliminary landscape review of the world of Ag 2.0 that I have unwittingly omitted as the Agtech explosion continues it exponential ascent upwards.
I intend to build on this systematically over the next year and keep a track of advancements in the world of Ag 2.0. But this first iteration gives you a fair idea of the rapidly changing face of food and agriculture just in the past year alone. Enjoy, savour and stay tuned for my next installment.
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