Five years ago, almost no one knew what agtech was. Inside the industry, we didn’t even know what to call what we were doing. But fast forward to today, and agricultural technology – from vertical farming to data science to farm drones – is the new hot thing in investor circles. The Investment Corporation of Dubai alone just dropped $203 million into agtech investments; another $200 million came from the Japanese holding behemoth SoftBank; and dedicated VC funds are zeroing in on the sector’s potential. In 2017, total investment was over $1.5 billion – a new record for the sector, and one that’s setting the stage for explosive growth.
But unlike many of today’s tech disruptions – from smartphones to social media – this one is less about consumer convenience or entertainment than about something far more pressing: our collective survival. The reality is that we have to quickly and efficiently bring farming from the industrial age into the digital one.
In this respect, booming investor interest in agtech should hardly come as a surprise. Market potential is nearly limitless precisely because our appetites are too. We all need to eat, and our population is rapidly growing.