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Lely Feed the Future Challenge
Participants in the Lely Feed the Future Challenge 2019. Image credit: Lely

Calling all agtech startups! Lely wants to help you revolutionize the dairy industry

April 29, 2021

Are you a startup innovating in the dairy industry?

If so, agriculture machinery company Lely wants to hear from you for its upcoming Feed the Future Challenge 2021. (You can already apply here now!)

Today’s dairy industry is grappling with a few challenges including sustainability. With fewer people choosing farming as a career, technology may be a way to reinvigorate not only interest but economic vitality, as well.

The challenge aims to identify startups in the agritech sector that have innovative solutions that can bring more sustainability and efficiency while ensuring the quality of life and profitability for Lely’s clients: dairy farmers.

Rockstart, global accelerator-VC, has joined forces with Lely and will play a key role in selecting which startups will have a chance to join an accelerator program and work with Lely. Five startups will be selected to join the four-week program that will provide new market insights, startup skills, and access to Lely’s massive network throughout the dairy industry. The program is fully online, but not full-time, in order to allow startups to participate remotely and commit to both the program as well as day-to-day business operations.

“For us at Lely, it is crucial that we stay up to speed with the latest technologies that will allow our farmers to operate sustainably and understand the data behind their operations,” André van Troost, CEO, Lely tells AFN. “Any solutions that facilitate their understanding in these areas,  digitize the process, and make it more transparent are of great interest.”

The winning team will also have the chance to run a pilot with Lely and test their innovations in a real-world, large-scale dairy environment while receiving feedback from Lely partners.

The Feed the Future Challenge 2021 was designed to tackle four key areas in global dairy farming:

  • Farm animal welfare – Consumers’ increasing awareness of the dairy industry has led to greater accountability for animal welfare. Solutions that involve bio-sensor technology or spectrometers that detect mastitis, for example, are of interest for us.
  • Pioneering enhancements of machinery – Dairy machines are a point of pride for us at Lely. However, we do not want to fall behind in improvements of our machinery, or the service we bring to our farmers. We are looking for new solutions that can improve either the machinery itself, or the way the machinery is transported and serviced like sustainable and smart packaging.
  • Sustainable and efficient production – After decades of globalizing our production, we are looking to make our production process more circular and sustainable while still maintaining efficiency. We are looking for solutions that make use of clean energy for farming practices or that use biomaterials. We are also eager for solutions that tackle pasture management, feed conversion, and land management.
  • Transparency in the information chain – Data is at the core of how we innovate, meaning that data collection and the translation of this information is a high priority. Solutions that create transparency in the supply chain, animal treatment, or production processes are therefore all very welcome to apply.

The most promising applicants should be based in Europe or Israel and would need to demonstrate a proof of concept that has traction in the market.

Interested startups can apply here by May 15, 2021. To learn more about this challenge, check out this video.

In June, the top 25 applicants will go through to an interview round that will narrow the class down to five lucky startups that will begin the four-week, tailor-made program in September.

The competition will culminate in a pitch event in October that will be broadcast live online and accessible to all startups, investors, and experts interested in revolutionizing the dairy industry.

Lely aims to offer startups more than just working capital to get their ideas off the ground.

“The past edition taught us that although cash investments are crucial to empowering startups to grow, it is just as important to offer them guidance and other types of resources such as expertise, data and network. That’s why we have designed this year’s program to include an in-depth, month-long support program. It is a true collaboration between Lely and the startups,” Jannet de Jong, Program Manager Startups, Lely, tells AFN.

About Lely

The Van der Lely family started their dairy technology business as a ‘studio for invention’ in 1948. It took only two generations to turn a small family business into a global pioneer and leading supplier of robotics and farm management data in dairy farming.

Currently, Lely holds 1,600 active patents protecting its inventions and it has around 57,000 active robots for multiple applications. Farmers in over 40 countries work with Lely solutions in the barn, on a daily basis.

Apply here by May 15, 2021 and check out the video below to learn more about the challenge.





*This article was sponsored by Rockstart, an AgFunder Network Partner. Find out more and get in touch with [email protected] if you’re interested in reaching our dedicated audience of over 85,000 entrepreneurs, investors and other participants in the future food system.*

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