New approaches such as these can all play a role in tackling the challenge of feeding the world’s rapidly growing population sustainable. However, to become solutions, ideas need funding. A report published in February by the online crowdfunding investment platform AgFunder found investors who had shied away from the sector were starting to take notice.
Global investment in agriculture technology has been approximately doubling annually for the last four years, the report says – from $500m in 2012 to $4.6bn last year. But while agriculture is responsible for 10% of global GDP, just 3.5% of venture capital investments go to the sector. US companies still dominate, but less so. While in 2014 they accounted for 90% of major investment deals, in 2015 the proportion was 58%.
“Despite huge inefficiency and waste, there has been relatively little investment in agricultural technology and few entrepreneurs working in the sector,” says Adam Anders, a managing partner at Anterra Capital, a venture capital company that focuses on food and farming.
“What we’re seeing now is a sentiment change with big corporates really paying more attention to innovation and investment, some in a defensive way and others genuinely looking at it as the future of their business. It’s a change that is totally new to a sector that has not had external, entrepreneur-led innovation as part of its make-up.”