VIDEO: How COVID-19 has impacted ag tech investments

AgriTech Capital president Aidan Connolly examines the ways the pandemic has — and will — influence investments in new agricultural technology startups, development and research.

AgriTech Capital president Aidan Connolly discusses ag tech investment trends during 2020 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced industries and employers to quickly adapt to a new way of doing business. In many ways, the development and adoptions of new innovations has accelerated. In agribusiness, the crisis has increased investment in new agricultural technologies — sensors, robotics and virtual platforms — and the startups driving these products.

Aidan Connolly, president of AgriTech Capital, dialed in to Feed Strategy Chat to discuss the ag tech trends shaping innovations now and into 2021.

How is COVID-19 impacting agtech startup investments? from WATT Global Media on Vimeo.

Video transcript

Jackie Roembke, editor, Feed Strategy: Hi everyone and welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. I’m your host Jackie Roembke, the editor of Feed Strategy Magazine.

This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and is your source for the latest news and leading-edge analysis of the global animal feed industry.

Today we are joined by Aiden Connolly, president of AgriTech Capital. How are you Aidan?

Aidan Connolly, president, AgriTech Capital: Good. Thank you. Thanks, Jackie.

Roembke: Excellent. So, in your opinion, how is the COVID-19 pandemic impacted investment in ag tech startups?

Connolly: It certainly caused a little bit of a shock. I think we all stopped paused in the beginning of the year and wondered what was going to happen next. Then extensively, it was just a flood of money coming into agriculture. What’s quite interesting is a lot more money coming into livestock tech then before. So proportionately I’d say livestock tech has done extremely well out of out of the pandemic concerns. Crop tech is slowed down a little bit. But, in general, we certainly seen a very strong year. It just be interesting to see what happens now whether people have spent all their money or whether they will continue into next year.

Roembke: And what about the development or adoption of new technologies?

Connolly: Definitely speeding up, definitely speeding up. You see that in terms of robots, for example, for milking cows, much, much faster adoption sales have gone through the roof. Same with robots for processing plants, particularly obviously, those relating to animal processing, and other robots on the farm. still relatively slow. growth in sensors has been steady, particularly environmental sensors and sensors for movement of animals.

I’d say blockchain, also growing at a normal rate. Certainly in terms of the company I’ve worked with came to Cainthus here a huge explosion in the use of cameras, cameras, for observing cows in particular. But it was used several times on the conference last week that was ran relating to poultry technology that COVID has been accelerated for the adoption of technology. I know it’s a that’s the same for other species as well.

Roembke: And which areas of ag tech have been hit the hardest and why?

Connolly: Crop tech undoubtedly has suffered more this year. I think that’s a function of the fact that crop producers — as those growing beans, corn, wheat, barley really haven’t made very much money most maybe seven of the last 10 years. So definitely has slowed down in the adoption of crop technology. Livestock technology, I mentioned already very strong, almost as much money spent in the first six months of 2020 as the entirety of 2019.

And if you look at technologies relating to food, particularly food supply, clearly the adoption of those is accelerated tremendously, because people have returned to grocery stores supermarkets to purchase their food.

Roembke: Looking ahead, what is the outlook for 2021 investment in ag tech — or the sector overall?

Connolly: Look, I think that we’ll see more of the same. I think we’ll see more of the same technologies being invested in, I think artificial intelligence, machine vision, things relating to observation, that’s clearly accelerating faster than anything else. 3-D printers, maybe will continue to grow, but I see that more as a two to three-year play.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, particularly for training has definitely increased in adoption as well. But I think the technologies that came through this year will continue to grow probably in that order of 10 to 15%, which is of course is incredibly strong. Many of them coming from startups, which means coming from a relatively low base.

Roembke: Well, thank you so much, Aiden. It was great speaking with you. And thank, thanks to our viewers. Please tune in next time for the next edition of the strategy chat.

Connolly: Always a pleasure. Thank you.

Learn more about ag tech investments in the animal industry feed in Emma Penrod’s article, “COVID-19 bears investments for feed startups.”

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