From vertical farming and AI detection of diseases in crops to blockchain platforms for measuring food chain sustainability – these are just a few of the many agritech solutions which startups around Europe offer with the goal to maximize the innovative potential of this traditional sector. AgTech by Agroland, the first full-scale incubation program in Romania that encourages and helps innovation in agriculture, has recognized the need to support the endeavors of early-stage Romanian agritech startups. On the 13th to 15th of November 2020, it will hold a nation-wide online hackathon AgTech Spark Weekend and will offer 10 selected startups the chance to participate in a mentoring and incubation program, 5 selected startups to receive a €10k seed investment, and for the big winner, there will be a big €50k award.
One of the organizers of the online event, Agroland, is the biggest chain and the largest network of agricultural stotes in Romania, while the two other organizers are the largest training and consulting company in the field of organizational development in Romania, Ascenis, and the coworking space and Cowork Timisoara. The hackathon is dedicated to all Romanian entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts who want to build tech startups with a direct impact on agriculture, under the guidance and support of selected mentors and jury.
“Through AgTech by Agroland, we want to prove that innovations in agriculture are not a Cinderella at all compared to other fields in which technology and courageous business approaches have made significant leaps. On the contrary, we believe that the growth potential in agriculture is much higher than in other economic branches, so we set out to support the talent and dedication of tech startups in the field, which can strengthen the growth of the agricultural sector in Romania,” explains Horia Cardos, founder and general manager of Agroland.
Who can participate?
It is expected that the participants will vary from students and graduates of specialized universities to programmers, and young business, marketing, and design specialists.
All of the ideas submitted by the participants will go through a pre-section stage where it will be assessed whether the ideas meet the acceptance criteria. In order to be approved, the startups will have to apply with a business solution that is based on either an existing technology with new applicability – drones, sensors, software platforms tailored to a specific need, problem, or niche, or on new technologies such as weather forecasting or crop health applications, various process automation applications and systems, smart irrigation systems, hardware equipment, IoT sensors and satellites, AI solutions, and so on. The proposed business ideas will be also evaluated in terms of their scalability and potential to solve existing problems in the agriculture sector.
What’s in for the participants
The event will unfold in a couple of stages and it will kick off with the AgTechTM Spark Weekend on the 13th to 15th November, at the end of which a pitch session for the selection of the 10 best ideas will take place. The winners of the Weekend will then move onto the next phase, Startup Generation, and will be given access to a 4-week program of intensive workshops and training by the Ascendis, which will aim to prepare them for the following stage – the incubator program. The incubation phase will occur in the timeframe of three months and provide support to five of the ten participating in the previous stage startups. The Pitch Final at the end of the incubator program will offer each of the five startups the possibility to receive a €10k investment in order to cover their seed costs, while the big winner will receive support in the form of €50k investment from Agroland, access to the Agroland business network, consultation and training from Ascendis, mentoring and resources needed to develop a functional product, which is validated with potential customers, and a tutor dedicated to management supervision and support in coordinating the entrepreneurial project.