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Why agtech? The thinking behind Farm2050

Samantha Wai, associate at Innovation Endeavors, explains the thinking behind Farm2050, the agtech funder and support initiative.

At the end of November, Innovation Endeavors, the venture capital firm founded by Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt, decided to take a closer look at agtech alongside industry players and other venture capital peers. It launched Farm2050 alongside hardware incubator Flextronics’ Lab IX to fund and support agtech start-ups. Here, Samantha Wai, associate at the VC firm, explains the thinking behind the initiative.

What was the premise behind launching Farm2050?

Agriculture caught our attention because it’s an opportunity to make both a human and a financial impact through innovation. In most industries you have 90 percent of the world’s entrepreneurs solving 10 percent of the world’s problems, whereas in agri you have 10 percent of entrepreneurs solving 90 percent of the world’s agricultural problems.

[quote]In agri you have 10 percent of entrepreneurs solving 90 percent of the world’s agricultural problems.[/quote]

Agri is a way that we can truly change the world and move the needle on big industries.

Technology can help bring the cost of food down; drones and automation can make agriculture processes much cheaper and much faster and underline an ability to maintain sustainable practices. Some types of technology also have the ability to reduce food waste and improve yields.

There is a lot of potential to work with industry players in agriculture that are increasingly keen to engage with start-ups. Therefore, we believe there is immense opportunity to work with them and help them navigate the land of start-ups working in the space. As we are positioned in Silicon Valley and Israel, we have access to a lot of interesting innovation that can hopefully be relevant to changing the agriculture landscape.

How big are the investments Farm2050 aims to make?

It is hard to put a number on it as we will keep ourselves very open to the different types of start-ups we will talk to; anything from seed genomics to food products to super early stage development work.

Farm2050 is not a formal fund or programme; Innovation Endeavours’ investments will be made out of our generalist VC fund and on a case-by-case basis we will partner and co-invest with other VCs and industry players.