Israel, often referred to as the “Startup Nation,” is applying its tech-savvy know-how to the most ancient of practices — farming. High technology is making the desert bloom with a combination of cutting-edge agricultural technology and improved agricultural practices.
“Since the Intel-Mobileye transaction, all hell has broken loose,” says Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd*, an Israel-based startup investing platform, in a report from CNBC. “The country is being overrun in a positive way by investors, corporations, and strategic partners.”
And agriculture is benefitting from all this fascination in Israel’s wealth of technology. Many innovative and sustainable tech-based solutions are now available for farms of all sizes and investors with a broad range of portfolio interests.
Historical Interest in Agritech
Israel’s agriculture industry began in the kibbutz, a voluntary democratic community where people live and work together on a non-competitive basis. Its aim has always been to foster economic and social independence so that communal ownership of property leads to social justice and equality.
With desert settings, kibbutz communities have always faced irrigation issues. After many droughts and water shortages in the 20th century, Israel looked to new solutions to reinvent its agricultural practices and industry. One company, Netafim, founded in 1965, helped to provide a range of products to meet the needs of drip/micro irrigation, including driplines, sprinklers, filters, valves, crop management technologies, technical education, and agronomic expertise.
Agriculture today in Israel has made a huge shift, incorporating state-of-the-art technologies in water consumption. This has propelled Israel into a robust agricultural exporting relationship with the European Union.
The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture estimates the number of active farmers to be 9,000 to 10,000, and Israel continues to receive recognition as a world leader in agricultural technologies.
How the Leading Equity Crowdfunding Platform is Accelerating Ag Innovation
OurCrowd is a catalyst as a global innovation marketplace. Though its base of operations is in Israel, the platform also has taken a cosmopolitan approach undeterred by national borders.
Recent countries in which OurCrowd has announced strategic partnerships include Singapore, India, Taiwan, and Australia, with more on the horizon. This philosophy has propelled OurCrowd as a leader in accessible startup investing and tech disruption.
OurCrowd is a leading equity crowdfunding platform recently listed by Business Insider as one of the “25 Coolest Tech Companies in Israel in 2017.” With its community of investors from around the world, OurCrowd has raised over $440 million for 120 companies ranging in industry and focus, including the agritech and farming arenas.
With an experienced team, OurCrowd vets thousands of companies each year, investing its own capital in every opportunity on its platform, alongside venture and corporate partners. OurCrowd’s global network of 20,000 investors, industry leaders, VCs, and multinational strategic partners work together throughout the startup lifecycle to strengthen portfolio growth.
Three Israeli Startups in the Agritech Spotlight
As the agritech industry moves into a state of very high concentration, sourcing innovation will become more competitive. According to the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, early engagement is essential to build a product that is focused on a real market need and aligned with the strategic goals of the corporate partner. Among its numerous investment selections, OurCrowd has invested in three promising startups with the capacity to make a real difference in sustainable farming around the world.
Exploring the unique characteristics of desert plants, EdenShield has studied and applied the beneficial extracts found in them to develop a family of natural, nontoxic products. The products can protect crops against damage from insects. Agritech is looking for more natural solutions for farmers as crop damage is costly, and conscious consumers are turning away from synthetic solutions. Other VCs are interested in this technology, with backers such as Trendlines Group also investing alongside OurCrowd.
Taranis is a tool for data collection and integrated pest management in the field. Taranis detects potentially problematic hot spots and prioritizes them for further investigation. Scouts then use a specialized app that directs them to these locations.
The farm’s team can then track infestation levels, trends, and action thresholds and even decide on more localized sprays. The technology is particularly interesting because of its multifunctional uses, imputing from a variety of measures from rain levels to visual mapping, and the ease in which multiple people from all stages of the growing process can access precious data, creating cost reduction and increased productivity. Other investors in the product include Salesforce’s Marc Benioff.
CropX helps farmers better understand water usage across their fields. Its low-cost soil sensors can increase crop yields while simultaneously cutting water usage by one-third. It has also made installation easy. This tech is a big deal in agriculture because it gives farmers tools to reduce cost, preserve resources, and work much more efficiently. Other notable co-investors include Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Green Soil.
With the boom in the world’s population and food needs rising, agritech is becoming ever more important. Israel is a world leader in technology and is looking for ways to produce plant propagation with standards of fertilization, soil maintenance, product quality, and pest management. Opportunities within OurCrowd can help interested investors to achieve those goals and move toward a healthy agricultural global ecosystem.
*This post was sponsored by OurCrowd. Farm image of Kibbutz Degania by Israel Tourism