Latin America holds a wealth of biodiversity, arable farming land and commodity crops like soy, coffee, cacao and many tropical fruits. It’s also home to countless agrifoodtech startups eager to improve practices and tools across the agrifood supply chain to create better opportunities for both planetary health and livelihoods.
GLOCAL, an agrifoodtech acceleration and investment fund and certified B Corp, is helping pioneer this transition by investing in such startups. At its recent Game Changers LatAm Series 2023, GLOCAL unveiled the 10 companies that won awards for their agrifoodtech innovations.
GLOCAL looks for startups with solutions applicable across the whole food supply chain. The 10 winners of the recent Pitch Day illustrate that, being a mix of agroforestry management systems, ag biotech innovations, water management software, and innovative ingredients.
The program connects startups with experts, mentors and potential advisors. Applicants also have the opportunity to access up to $500,000 in investment.
Judging the pitches was a jury made up of notable agrifood investors including:
- Fabiana Sanchez – Bayer
- Laura Zaim – Louis Dreyfus Company
- Martin Burlo – Surcos
- Sebastián Ezequiel Spena – Banco Galicia Ventures
- Florencia Solari – GLOCAL
Uruguay-based ag biotech company metaBIX Biotech was chosen as the overall winner.
Meet the 10 finalists
Ag biotech companies
metaBIX Biotech (Uruguay)
The ag biotech company uses software to predict emerging pathogens in the environment as well as known ones like Listeria and African Swine Flu. metaBIX Biotech provides its clients with the hardware to take samples of their environments before AI-based software analyzes the data and calculates risks. The company says one of its main goals is to increase productivity in the agricultural sector “at least 15–20%” by helping detect pathogens early and provide insights customers can act on quickly.
Qumir nano (Argentina)
As the name suggests, Qumir Nano combines nanotechnology and microbiology to make a pesticide that could be a replacement for both chemical pesticides and biological ones. The company leverages “nanofactories” (bacteria or fungi) from the Las Yungas jungle to synthesize silver, zinc and copper bio-nanoparticles with antimicrobial activity. Thus far, the company has tested this on the Red Stripe disease for sugar cane plants and is running in vivo assays for other sugar can diseases.
With a particular focus on agroforestry, Skoog and MeuCarbono connect landowners of all sizes with carbon markets and offer incentives for them to implement conservation and reforestation practices on their land. Their technology, a combination of remote sensing and machine learning, monitors carbon stocks, while the company’s approach to carbon markets aims to build more direct relationships between landowners and those purchasing carbon credits.
Courageous Land (Brazil)
Courageous Land designes and operates tropical agroforestry systems to assist with carbon removal, restoring habitat biodiversity and boosting local incomes in the Amazon forest area. It’s AI platform assists with planning and operations and connects agroforesters with partnerships for selling products and carbon credits. To date, Courageous Land’s system has worked with coffee, cacao, bananas, Brazil nuts, tumeric and multiple other crops.
Agribusiness marketplaces & fintech companies
Creditares and Agro Open Bank (Brazil)
Creditares bills itself as “a financial services hub for rural producers.” Using Agro Open Bank’s open banking model, the platform connect rural producers with access to credit and financial advisory services. The company says it aims to offer smallholder producers options beyond subsidized rural credit, which is increasingly difficult to obtain.
Similar to Creditares, Verqor offers access to credit for smallholders and rural producers that might otherwise struggle to obtain it. The Verqor process does this by offering cashless credits to farmers based on historical data about a farm’s productivity as well as factors like weather trends, price fluctuations and supply chain data. The company, which just raised $7.5 million, aims to soon approve credit loans in 48 hours or less and will expand further across Mexico in the near future.
Farm management software companies
DigiFarmz Smart Agriculture (Brazil)
DigiFarmz Smart Agriculture offers a digital platform combining data on climate, cultivar genetics, sowing dates, location and other factors to assist growers and agronomists with management of soybean diseases. The system uses the data to provide guidance on what fungicides and mixes to use, the ideal date for spraying, and how much of a solution should be applied. The company says this assists not only with increased agricultural productivity but also allows farms to optimize spraying so that it has less environmental impact.
Other agrifoodtech companies
AInwater’s system targets water treatment plants, which often struggle to treat water due to high energy costs. AInwater builds what it calls “a digital twin” of a water treatment plant that lets operators monitor their plants and for efficiency and compliance via AI algorithms. The plug-and-play system causes minimal disruptions to regular operations, and AInwater promises “up to 30% energy savings” for those using its software.
Cellva Ingredients (Brazil)
Innovative food company Cellva is developing “animal fat with a green footprint” through cell culture to create food-grade ingredients for other products. The process requires a small sample of animal tissue, which Cellva says is “collected painlessly, without discomfort and without slaughter, only once.” Cellva is starting with pig fat, which has potential use cases across a range of products, from animal- and cell-based ones to other cultivated items.
Flor E Fruto (Brazil)
Flor E Fruto’s circular system is designed to connect producers directly with customers, building more transparency into the process and cutting out middlemen. The company offers advice and tools for everything from farm productivity and harvest intelligence to post-harvest selection practices, transport and other facets of the consumer market. The goal is to match producers with the most relevant buyers and obtain better prices that would be available via a traditional middleman.
If you believe your startup could be the next GLOCAL Game Changers winner, submit your entry here.