In “Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: The Wheels of Commerce,” Fernand Braudel, one of the most significant economic historians of the 20th century, speculated that European agricultural production and inventions played a vital part in the economic growth of the continent. Braudel claimed that these agricultural innovations and Europe’s advantageous landscape and trade networks laid the groundwork for the early modern period’s economic development.
According to European Union estimates, agribusiness employs over 44 billion people. Also, since agriculture represents a more significant component of national GDP in most European countries, each one must strive to keep its agriculture competitive and sustainable in 2023.
Why is agriculture getting increasingly important? According to European authorities, food production must be quadrupled by 2050 to accommodate population increase and changing food habits to feed European society. And it’s becoming more difficult each passing year, as EU farmers face the effects of climate change on biodiversity, water and soil quality, global market demands, and food production needed to face these problems.
The European agricultural situation appears to be manageable till the end of 2021. Unfortunately, the European agrarian status became more complex in February 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has significantly impacted EU trading in agri-food goods since the beginning. The conflict disrupted Ukraine’s direct supplies to Europe and harmed the global food trade balance. As a result, this effect, among many others, simulates inflation rates in practically all European countries. Inflation hits not just individual consumers but also food producers, many of whom are agricultural. Well, here comes the challenge.
Given the circumstances, it should be no surprise that agritech is one of the domains that is becoming increasingly appetizing to startup founders. Everyday challenges in the CEE region, where founders are raised, impact the sectors startups seek to revolutionize.
Agriculture innovations may take two different ways in terms of approaches.
The first is regenerative agriculture, which focuses on enhancing soil health, lowering chemical inputs, and boosting biodiversity. It aims to develop resilient and sustainable agricultural systems that provide nutritious food while increasing ecosystem health. There is numerous representation of European startups focusing on alternative farming techniques, hardware solutions, or unique food processing technologies. I associate them with more conventional agricultural practices based on previous patterns affiliated with specific agriculture sectors.
The second approach, data-based agriculture, takes a step deeper by utilizing data and technology to improve farming operations and productivity. Data-driven agriculture seeks to eliminate waste, boost yields, and optimize profitability. It may assist farmers in making the best possible use of their present resources to increase the overall success of their businesses. When paired with regenerative agriculture, data-based agriculture can help farmers implement it more successfully, resulting in more productive and environmentally friendly farming systems. They may construct agriculture production that is both financially and ecologically sustainable by blending regenerative agriculture concepts with both data and technology.
What excites me the most, though, are the innovative agritech startups that aspire to lead data-driven agriculture. European agriculture is now dominated by large farming conglomerates that are blind without data. That is why I have placed startups on my personal radar that develop creative software that allows producers to arrange regenerative agricultural operations in the appropriate context.
Here are a few software-based CEE agritech startups to keep an eye on:
eAgronom – established in 2016 in Finland, this startup provides one of Europe’s largest agricultural management software systems. It also created a platform for farming-based carbon credits to affect the offset market and speed the transition to net zero emissions.
GeoPard – a German startup providing real cloud-based insights for agricultural data. The platform core can handle geolocation data to unlock the full potential of farmlands and facilitate agronomic decisions. It may be used for everything from planning to execution to modifying methods depending on data.
BERABOT – AI-based plant monitoring system provider that provides solutions such as instant identification of insect risks inside the greenhouse.
Proofminder – a Hungarian AI platform for smart agriculture that offers plant monitoring as a SaaS platform that collaborates with drones.
Agroninja – a Hungarian digital solution for cattle ranchers that allows users to access on-demand data via cellphones to continually monitor the herd. It gives simple livestock management software to assist users in organizing, forecasting, and making data-driven decisions.
Qubeto – a German startup working to develop an intelligent system for testing pesticides, chemicals, and other factors. It combines automated data collecting and AI-driven data analysis to transform substance screening to generate better products sustainably.
As a tech geek who works for startups in various industries, these fascinate me for one more reason: they all operate so near the root of human existence, and we may not be where we are if not development of agriculture.
Without question, the rise of fresh agritech startups may be a significant advance in the search for solutions that will allow people to exploit nature more efficiently. Nonetheless, since being integrated into the EU, CEE nations may affect how agriculture gains momentum. Under pressure from climate change, global food chain disruptions, and economic concerns, these startups may use technology and innovations to help food producers reset their priorities and determine how agriculture transforms into a sustainable direction.