Eric Schmidt backs agtech startups with Farm2050 Collective

Eric Schmidt backs agtech startups with Farm2050 Collective

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Eric Schmidt’s venture capital fund, Innovation Endeavors, and the venture arm of hardware supply chain company Flextronics, Flextronics’ Lab IX, announced the launch of Farm2050, a collective of industry partners in agriculture. Farm2050’s mission is to catalyze groundbreaking innovation by providing entrepreneurs the network and resources to build the foundation for a better agricultural future. The collective to date includes leading companies such as AGCO, DuPont, Google, Sensitech Inc. (a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp), and 3D Robotics. Where’s AgFunder on that list? Don’t worry we’ll work on that.

Farm2050 presents a new type of ecosystem that goes beyond capital by adding value in a way similar to how Andreessen-Horowitz operates. The collective will support entrepreneurs who are working on technology and innovation in agriculture through a variety of means, including capital, manufacturing capabilities, test facilities, and mentorship.

This collective was created to address global food security challenges by leveraging technology and innovation to build big agricultural businesses. To meet the demand of a growing population, food production must increase by ~70 percent in an increasingly challenging environment characterized by climate change, resource scarcity, and evolving diets. This implies significant growth in an already large market — estimated at $120 billion in net farm income annually — and robust opportunity to start meaningful ventures.

Dror Berman, Managing Partner at Innovation Endeavors, reaffirmed the opportunity for technology to address the food challenge: “By 2050, we will need to feed more than 10 billion people. This is a tall order but also the type of challenge that technologists should be working to solve.”

Historically, technology has been critical to supporting the world’s growth. Berman mentions, “100 years ago we saw the Haber-Bosch process enable fertilizer development. 50 years ago we saw the refrigerated truck facilitate the long-distance transport of perishables. And today we’re seeing the emergence of robotics and machine learning applied to agricultural practices.”

Farm2050 is excited about the way entrepreneurs can apply cutting-edge technologies to improve food production and how advances in data science and robotics enable the world to rethink the way we seed, cultivate, and harvest food. Although data science and robotics are important themes, Farm2050 keeps its doors open to all types of innovation that can help to improve agriculture including software and biotech solutions.

“We are excited about entrepreneurs working at the intersection of emerging technology and big market opportunities to build things with the power to truly change the world,” said Lior Susan, Head of Lab IX and New Ventures at Flextronics. “As talented founders address the food challenge, we look forward to providing access to a powerful ecosystem of innovative people, ideas, markets, and resources that can be leveraged as we can collaborate to improve and enable our agricultural future.”

Innovation Endeavours was one of the investors in Blue River Technologies (Making robot lettuce picking overlords), and Flextronics Labs IX is a backer of AgFunder listed Edyn (Smart Garden System), so these are two firms that have both dipped their toe in the space. We’re excited to follow their development.

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