Sensors, Insects, Drones And Sustainable Nitrogen Define Innovation In European AgTech Start Ups

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Author: Jennifer Kite-Powell

If you can’t digest the whole unicorn concept of $1 billion dollar companies you’ve never heard of, or you’re tired of all those wearable or social robot projects on crowdfunding platforms that never see the light of day, there’s hope. Agtech.

Agtech investment is on the rise, nearly doubling in one year – from $2.4 billion in 2014 to a projected investment of $4.2 billion in 2015. According to a recent article in that listed 10 European Agtech start ups to watch, food demand is doubling by 2050 so it makes sense that technology should play a role in shaping new agriculture on a global scale.

From hardware and sensors to sustainable and new organic compounds, here are a few new companies that are playing a role in the future of modern agriculture.


The Swiss company Gamaya has created a small and light hyperspectral imaging system (HSI) in a camera for drones. HSI is used to collect and processes information from the electromagnetic spectrum and lets you more easily identify materials, detect processes, find objects when the sensors scans or take an image of something, in this case, terrain.

With Gamaya, drones are equipped with their HSI camera and capture images to produce a survey of the land. They call it smarter farming and from the data captured from the HSI camera, farmers will be armed with more accurate diagnostics of issues affecting their farms like crop diseases, invasive species and environmental stresses of the land they are farming.

In Israel there’s CropX, an ag-analytics company that uses wireless sensors with a mobile app to create an automatic irrigation system for crops based on soil moisture and temperature. All land is not the same, so the CropX sensors can detect which areas need more water or less water, and then adjusts the irrigation based on that data. Less run off water, higher crop yield, more efficient irrigation.

The company recently closed a $9 million Series A round. The team are heavyweights from across the business, tech and science sectors. The CEO, Isac Bentwich founded Rosetta Genomics (NASDAQ:ROSG).

Sustainable and bio compounds

Azotic Technologies, a young company in the UK, has created a new nitrogen fixing technology based on a food bacteria which makes it sustainable nitrogen. Rather than agriculture being dependent on nitrogen fertilizers, crops can get a nitrogen fix from the air. This would reduce the dependency on chemical-based nitrogen fertilizers, be less expensive and protect both land and water.

In the gray area between bio-tech and ingenuity, there’s insect biotechnology and that brings us to Yinsect, a French company focused on farming insects.

The company transforms insects for nutritional purposes using green chemistry, in other words, they’ve figured out a way to raise insects and feed them organic substrates like cereal byproducts, which then converts the insects into a sustainable nutrient resource, like food for fish farms. The company has already raised $5.5 million from international investors.

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