Podcast: Drones, delivery and DNA

AgFunder’s Louisa Burwood-Taylor on the future of agrifood tech

Farm robotics and online restaurants are already a reality. But there’s much more to come in food and agtech innovation. What ideas are making it off the drawing board and onto our plates? AgFunder’s Louisa Burwood-Taylor sheds some light.

Listen to this episode of Food Forward here (26 min).

When Louisa Burwood-Taylor first started covering food and agriculture as a financial journalist, her family and friends seemed unimpressed. “What? Are you going to write about fertilizers?” they wanted to know. But things have changed. “Now when I talk about how technology is affecting what’s on their plate, and you look at investment, there’s a realization that something exciting and important is going on.”

These days Burwood-Taylor is the Head of Media & Research at AgFunder and Editor of AgFunder News. AgFunder launched in 2013 as a crowdfunding platform to raise capital for F&A start-ups. Agriculture, explains Burwood-Taylor, had been left behind from investment standpoint, but also in terms of the development and adoption of new technologies. It’s quickly catching up. In 2012, there was $2.6 billion invested in agrifood tech, ranging from on-farm innovations to consumer products and services. In 2018, there was a record $17 billion of investment, up 43 percent from the previous year.

The future of food will be defined by the technologies being developed and funded today. What will be on our plates in 2050 – and how will it get there? Will we still have kitchens in our homes? Are robots coming for our farming jobs? Listen to find out.

From the podcast

On the innovation gap: “Agriculture was left behind, so there’s a huge amount of work to do to digitize the farm.”

On worrying about gene editing technology: “I feel positive about the entrepreneurs in the gene editing space today. I think fundamentally people want to do good. And they want to have jobs which are doing good.”

On the pace of innovation: “Consumers are already eating new technologies.”

On the rush of funding towards online food delivery: “Consumer demand for being able to order noodles on Monday and tapas on Tuesday isn’t going anywhere.”

On planetary boundaries: “Entrepreneurs are trying to change the environmental footprint of agriculture.”

On the future of farming: “The ultimate future farm would have autonomous drones flying over, identifying problems, flying down and dealing with that problem.”

On how start-ups and investors can do better: “There needs to be a lot more conversation between the entrepreneurs and the farmers.”

F&A Next

At F&A Next 2019, May 15-16, Louisa-Burwood Taylor will present AgFunder’s latest statistics on the European food and agtech ecosystem. This premier F&A innovation event in the Netherlands connects innovative food and agriculture start-ups with investors. Register today!

Food Forward is a new Rabobank podcast featuring the innovators and agriculture experts who are changing the way we produce and consume food. Listen and subscribe on iTunes, RaboCasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.