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Beyond the Pitch

3Bar Biologics Takes the Stage at World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit

3Bar Biologics Presents at World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit

People think of farming as this old-fashioned, traditional industry, but like any aspect of commerce or life, it’s ripe for disruption when disruptors figure out a way to bring more value to farmers.” – Bruce Caldwell, CEO, 3Bar Biologics

I recently attended, for the first time, the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. This is one of the world’s largest agri-tech events, a kind of industry who’s who. It’s held annually in London and San Francisco and attracts more than 500 agribusiness leaders, VC investors, and agri-tech innovators from around the world.

I went to learn more about the latest trends in the agri-business industry and because 3Bar Biologics Inc., a Rev1 portfolio company, was invited as one of the 12 top startups in the industry to present their agriculture and food-tech solutions at the newly launched World Agri-Tech Demo Day.

Here’s what I learned:

VCs are accelerating investments in agri-tech.

There’s more investment capital moving into agri-tech today than three or four years ago. From 2012 to 2015, global venture capital investments in agri-tech are up 80 percent (CGR) even though U.S. net farm income is down.

Some of this may be the result of environmental activists, and perhaps some from deals in the energy space that didn’t pan out. But whatever the reason behind it, traditional VCs are looking for promising startups in agri-tech.

Big data firms are trying to find a fit with farmers.

There are many new products associated with data analytics, and a lot of people trying to sell their wares. There were big names at this conference—IBM and Verizon, for example, and many bright researchers from Cal Poly. Agriculture is at the bottom of the industry list when it comes to digitization; it looks like a huge opportunity.

After spending some time listening to a group of farmers in the back of the room, I concluded that there are some real challenges to putting data analytics to work in this industry.

First, farmers only have 10 fingers. They can’t type when they are driving the tractor or harvesting wheat. Data is going to have to be collected automatically.

Second, farmers consider their data about their crops and fields to be proprietary. They aren’t interested in sharing it. They don’t see the benefit, and that brings me to my third observation.

Business model changes are likely to occur.

New business models could evolve to enable the monetization of farm data. If there’s a way for the farmer to share in the financial benefit of sharing data, then big data solutions might catch on.

The key takeaway, 3Bar’s solution remains unique. It solves two major problems that every farmer has. The eco-issues of chemical fertilizers are not going away, and 3Bar offers a compelling biologic alternative.

Even more compelling to investors and agri-business heavy-hitters at this conference was 3Bar’s delivery system, with its ability to deliver the freshest possible population of beneficial microbes.

There is real interest across the industry in improving the supply chain for biologics. The industry is recognizing 3Bar Biologics’s potential to make the delivery process more efficient and less costly.

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