Thailand National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), or NIA, is accelerating and strengthening Thailand’s agricultural sector by driving agricultural technology (AgTech) startups that use deep technology (DeepTech) to boost production potential and create sustainability in the agricultural sector.

This year, the third batch of the project “Inno4Farmers 2022″ reaffirms the success of incubating startups into the business sector both locally and internationally.

The incubation program assisted AgTech startups to develop technology capability that precisely meets the needs of the agricultural sector’s pain points and can also expand the market share.

In the program, seven agricultural startups with remarkable technology have played an active role.

The startups have been provided solutions and collaborated with the program’s strategic partners including the government sector, private sector, and investors which would be a crucial strategy for accelerating business growth.

Inno4Farmers 2022 DEMO DAY was arranged on October 11, 2022, as a venue for AgTech startups to share their achievements and business strategies with investors and others who are interested in agricultural innovation.

The best performance award based on judges’ scores and the popular award voted by the audiences go to UniFAHS : Bio supplement (novel bacteriophage technology) against Salmonella in animals’ guts as a replacement of chemicals and antibiotics.

“The main goal of the ongoing Inno4Farmers 2022 project is to modernize the Thai agricultural sector with technology and innovations from the AgTech startups to directly address issues in the agricultural sector,” said Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana, Executive Director of NIA.

“Additionally, focusing on DeepTech’s development that gives a competitive edge, resulting in an increase in the consumer base and attracting new investors from both domestic and oversea markets,” he said.

Cited global overview of investments in AgTech startups for 2021, he said the total investment value was 370 billion Thai Baht ($9.77 billion).

According to him, two unicorn-level AgTech startups that utilized DeepTech to solve the challenging issues in the agricultural sector could attract funding with a much higher value: 1) Inari has applied biotechnology to improve seeds 2) Bowery has used artificial intelligence technologies with image analysis to manage the automatically planted greenhouses.

“Back in Thailand, investments in new agricultural ventures are expected to reach around 1,200 million baht in 2022. There is a sign from the Investors that they start realizing the value of funding on DeepTech firms like ‘Ricult’; and ‘Biome’ and quot,” he said.

According to him, Ricult utilized machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to process data to assist farmers in making wise decisions; Biome use unique enzymes and synthetic biology to prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

Also, they produce fruit and vegetable washing products that contain enzymes that can break down the chemical makeup of pesticide residues, he added.

He also said this project has gotten well collaborations from more than 20 partners in both government and private sectors which involved brainstorming to access industry insights, finding startups that address local and global pain points, and connecting startups with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector, such as large and small company owners, governmental agencies, venture capital and corporate venture capital investors.

According to him, the seven selected teams have remarkable technology, innovations, or solutions that can effectively address the issue of fixing problems in the agricultural industry locally and internationally.

“For example, EasyRice has gained the opportunity to work with Hong Thong Rice, and Kai Jae Rice on applying AI to evaluate the quality of rice and to indicate the rice types,

“Also, their business was expanded to the United Kingdom, and was chosen to be 1 of the 12 participants in the AI Accelerator Program at The University of Edinburgh.” he added.

Meanwhile, NIA Deputy Executive Director of Innovation Systems Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng said the seven startup teams of Inno4Farmer 2022 consist of 1) Aqua Innovac, Nano vaccines for aquaculture farms to prevent epidemics and increase fish farm productivity; 2) ZeroLoss, water management, and irrigation system for agriculture; UniFAHS, products with bio-additives that can increase production by decreasing the likelihood of epidemic disease on chicken farms; 4) Egg E Egg, an automated technology that uses artificial intelligence to optimize egg analysis in egg farms; 5) Maxflow, a system for adjusting water clusters using electromagnets which can promote production while using less water and fertilizer; 6) AgriGen, AI system to control milk quality and increase dairy farm production; 7) Intscent, E-Nose system to classify coffee bean quality for coffee suppliers.

“All of them are early-stage startups with developed prototype products which are ready to use and could solve the agricultural pain points together with nine partners, including Royal Irrigation Department Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Siam Kubota Corporation Co., Ltd. Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL, The Southern Palm (1987) Co., Ltd., Manit Genetics Co., Ltd., CP-Meiji Co., Ltd. and Hillkoff Co., Ltd. As a result, these would stimulate innovation and the development of products and services that meet the needs of the agricultural sector.”

“Besides, collaboration from all sectors would encourage ecosystem completion and investments in AgTech startups anticipated to be able to raise at least 300 million Thai Baht ($7.92 million),” she said.

“‘Inno4Famers’ incubates and accelerates AgTech startups to be change makers of the agricultural sector by strengthening the ability to tackle agricultural challenges through DeepTech along the agricultural value chain, harmonizing with the government’s BCG policy and development.” she added.

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