AgNext, a provider of food quality assessment technologies, has raised $21 million in a Series A round led by Alpha Wave Incubation – a $300 million early-stage fund managed by New York-based Falcon Edge Capital and backed by DisruptAD, the VC arm of UAE sovereign fund ADQ.
The round also provided an exit for AgNext’s pre-seed investor a-IDEA NAARM – the agribusiness incubator operated by India’s National Academy of Agricultural Research Management. The incubator secured a 5x return on its initial investment, according to the startup.
The Chandigarh-based startup is on a mission to improve quality control in the post-harvest food value chain. It says that the global agrifood industry racks up as much as $90 billion in losses each year because of inadequate quality assessments, which can lead to product recalls, consumption of unsafe food, and damage to consumer trust.
Much of this cost is borne by farmers, who face thinner profit margins – as well as consumers, who end up paying higher prices.
Existing food quality assessment processes tend to be manual, laboratory-based, and “subjective,” according to AgNext, making them “costly and time-consuming with lower accuracy [of] up to 60%.”
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AgNext’s automated platform, Qualix, uses a combination of artificial intelligence, IoT, and data analytics technologies to assess the quality of a variety of agrifood products, including grains, milk, oilseeds, pulses, spices, tea, and animal feed.
The startup says Qualix is able to offer “accuracy of up to 99%” in real-time quality assessment of food as it passes through the supply chain, bringing “trust, speed, and transparency” to the industry and cutting out the need for assessments to be performed in a lab.
This AI-driven approach is made possible thanks to the startup’s ever-growing data bank, built on more than 2 million food samples it has collected since it launched in late 2016.
Qualix went live commercially last year, and since then, AgNext claims it has experienced a “100% pilot to paid customer conversion” rate. The startup counts conglomerates Godrej and ITC, as well as farmer co-op NAFED, among its clients.
Using the Series A funding, AgNext plans to add other agrifood commodities to its dataset, in addition to strengthening its presence across India and beginning its expansion to new markets in South Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. With regards to the latter, it’s setting up an office in DisruptAD’s home city of Abu Dhabi in order to accelerate its growth in the region.