It has been hard to keep it secret, but today we can announce that farmAR is the winner of the EC B2B Copernicus Challenge. Having been a finalist in 2016, it is great the jury recognised the progress we’ve made over the last year. The prize was made public during the award ceremony at the European Space Week in Tallinn, Estonia. We are happy with this valued prize, which we see as validation of our business idea.
farmAR will attend the 10th Potato Expo held in Orlando, Florida from 10-12 January 2018. Potato Expo features 2,000 growers, suppliers, and experts at the largest conference and trade show for the potato industry held in North America. Supported by HS TRADING Co., we’re hoping to get a good understanding of the North American market, learn what works and what doesn’t and of course visit some local farms.
FoodNexus is a European innovation alliance for better food, better innovations and a better world. One of their projects is the European FoodNexus Startup Challenge. The challenge starts with a national competition, which is held in eight countries including the Netherlands. farmAR was ranked 11 out of 55 applications, narrowly missing the top ten of companies invited to pitch to become the Dutch representative to the European finals. The finals will be held in Wageningen in December.
Precision agriculture (also referred to as precision farming or smart farming) is a way to make agriculture future-proof. Economically, by improving the profitability and yield of farmers, but also in terms of sustainability, food security and continuity. Research shows that the uptake and scaling of precision agriculture solutions is slow, as shown by reports from the European Innovation Partnership ‘Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability’ (EIP AGRI) and Wageningen University & Research.
To improve the coordination and cooperation of precision farming expertise and experiments, the Dutch government initiated the national precision agriculture platform. Two workshops were organised on 6 and 27 September to gauge interest and collect existing initiatives and ideas for an agenda. farmAR attended the workshop on 6 September to get a feel for what is happening already, where opportunities are for us and of course raise awareness of the needs of start-ups – for example to be able to work with research organisations.
Katana is a Horizon 2020 funded business accelerator searching for promising entrepreneurs. Through a process of peer-review, farmAR was ranked 14th out of 506 applications and therefore selected as one of the Katana Top 100 of best agrifood ideas. This Top 100 spot entitled us to a three-day onsite bootcamp in July with a range of interesting workshops and the chance to meet other entrepreneurs.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and technology transfer company Creaction selected farmAR to take part in the Space Creativity Centre (SCC). The Space Creativity Centre is an ESA support programme to validate a technology idea and shape product design. It helps prepare for the ESA business incubation application by defining the value proposition.
The 3-day residential programme the SCC provided the farmAR team with tailored advice and expert meetings. The team went to visit Goedert, a company that provides equipment and labour to surrounding farms. Meetings were organised with different companies and areas of expertise: remote sensing expertise from VITO, soil property analysis from Université Catholique de Louvain and AR/VR expertise from Renault. The team left Redu with the beginning of a business canvas the confirmation that farmAR was worth pursuing.
With the idea for farmAR (then called More2Green), Beril Sirmacek was finalist in the Copernicus Masters DLR Environment, Energy and Health Challenge in 2016. This gave her access to the Copernicus Accelerator, a unique coaching programme initiated by the European Commission, and mentorship from Martijn Leinweber, Community Manager at the Space Business Incubator (SBIC) in Noordwijk (NL). One of the recommended actions was to find a co-founder and, following an advert on the SBIC website, a match was found with Linda van Duivenbode.