What you need to know (in a nutshell)
Agriculture is an industry that has always relied on innovation to feed and support a growing population in a changing environment.
The increased use of technology in farming has allowed for the transition from small-scale to commercial production.
Innovations in the "Digital Agriculture" space are collecting data from sensors and equipment to be integrated into the supply chain.
Agriculture is ripe for innovation, as this industry continues to be vital for feeding, clothing, and protecting the growing world population. Throughout history, innovation in agriculture has allowed the transition from subsistence landholding to efficient large-scale commercial production. This includes advancements in farm operations, agrichemicals, and plant/animal biotech.
Agriculture tech (AgTech) uses innovative solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, profitability, and sustainability in the farming industry. These solutions can be in the form of new technologies and applications, hardware and software, or new business models. Digital agriculture, which often involves using data collected from sensors and equipment in agricultural operations, can help with farm management and decision-making. The global market size of smart agriculture is predicted to reach $34 billion by 2026.
The term "Digital Agriculture" refers to the use of data collected from sensors and equipment in agriculture, as well as the integration and application of this data across the supply chain. This data is used to assist with decision-making in farm management, distribution, processing and more.
Digital Agriculture can help with farm operations and management, such as monitoring animals, soil, and crops, and controlling greenhouse conditions. It uses tools such as water sensors, weather stations, fence sensors, electronic identification tags, and autonomous vehicles.
The global market for smart agriculture is predicted to reach $34 billion by 2026. This increase in demand is prompting numerous innovations in specialized application areas. Advances in digital agriculture, including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and blockchain, have already changed farming. Robotics, autonomous systems, and virtual and augmented reality are expected to play a larger role in the future. The agriculture industry offers many opportunities for innovation and the development of new technologies. This includes the use of the internet of things, cloud computing, blockchain, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality. These innovations can improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in agriculture. Intellectual property protection, such as patents, can be useful for securing rights to new solutions in the field.
A UK agricultural engineering group recently completed an entire crop cycle using autonomous technology, the first time a crop has been planted, cultivated, and harvested without human intervention.
As a business owner in the agricultural industry, it's important to recognize the role that innovation has played in feeding, clothing, and protecting the growing population. The increased use of technology in farming has allowed for the transition from small-scale to commercial production. This includes the use of agricultural chemicals and plant/animal biotech, such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and animal breeding technologies. These innovations are now being used in the "Digital Agriculture" space to collect data from sensors and equipment in agricultural operations. This data can then be integrated into the supply chain, from farm management to processing and distribution.
As a business owner in the agricultural industry, it's important to be aware of the opportunities for growth and investment in the AgTech sector. SVG Ventures, a world-leading agriculture innovation investor based in Silicon Valley, has announced plans to establish a headquarters in Melbourne to launch a $50-million venture fund. This fund will facilitate growth in the AgTech sector in Australia and New Zealand, and will focus on fast-tracking technologies in the area of Smart Farming. This follows similar successful AgTech venture capital investment models in Canada and the United States.
It's essential to understand the commercial opportunities and challenges in the current environment. This includes how to leverage commercial advantage, attract investors, follow trends, protect market share, cement technology partnerships, and increase profits. In particular, it's important to understand how to use registered and unregistered intellectual property for commercial advantage.
In the AgTech industry, it's important to be aware of the common exit strategies for successful companies. To date, it has been common for successful AgTech companies to be acquired by larger players in the agriscience business. For example, the agricultural software development company Granular Inc. was acquired by DowDuPont (now Corteva). More recently, public markets have become more receptive to AgTech, opening up the option of an initial public offering (IPO) for such businesses.
It's important for businesses to understand how patents can be used to protect their digital agriculture and other AgTech inventions. This is particularly relevant as many of the inventions in this industry sector relate to the shift from traditional mechanical agricultural technologies towards electronics, computer-implemented inventions (CII), and machine learning inventions. Understanding how to use patents can be critical for the success of a business in this industry.
Patents can be used to protect a range of types of subject matter, including products, processes, devices, uses, and systems, with the goal of preventing unauthorised commercial exploitation by competitors. To best exploit the full value of intellectual property (IP), flexible and nimble IP strategies will need to be developed and tailored to a company's particular position in the innovation cycle. Understanding which IP issues to focus on will be essential, as different aspects will be relevant depending on whether a business is a fast-growth start-up in digital agriculture or an established company pivoting towards smart farming solutions.
It's important to understand the potential value of publically available patent information for a business. Patent information can help identify promising areas for development in an industry, both through patent landscaping analysis and by understanding the directions others are taking in their research and development (R&D) efforts in these areas. By leveraging this information, a business can make informed decisions about where to focus a company's R&D efforts and gain a competitive advantage in the market and possibly avoid R&D duplication effort.