If you’ve been following Project X for a while, you’ll know that we were invited to speak at the World AgriTech Innovation Summit; an excellent event that brings the brightest minds in the animal health and feed industries to share critical knowledge.

We recognise that not everyone has the time, or the means required to participate in events like these, so as part of our commitment to transparent and accessible information, we are sharing our four favourite highlights of the event.

1: What makes a collaborative model successful, sustainable, and scalable?

Open system innovation is still not very common in the animal nutrition or animal health sectors. During a recently LinkedIn interview “Ask an Expert” with Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation, Jesper Brodin, CEO Ingka Group said

“We stand in a decade that might be the most important in the history of mankind. The climate crisis will not wait for Coronavirus. If we look at the data and our predictions, the climate crisis that stands before us will most likely have a bigger impact on both health and the economy than the current situation. There is no way that we can look ourselves in the mirror and postpone the actions that we have committed ourselves to.

Ingka Group remains committed to the IKEA ambition to become climate positive and circular by 2030 and contribute to limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. The Ingka Group emission reduction goals are approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

The big focus area for Ingka Group is to inspire customers that there are affordable solutions for life at home which are sustainable and that there can be a value chain which is circular.

As a company, our biggest wish is to convince a lot of people that sustainability is not charity. Sustainability is the new business model, the new low cost. The old model of irresponsible consumption or consumption without limitations is, at the end of the day, a very expensive model. We cannot be IKEA for the many people if we follow that route,” says Brodin.”

In this model, all actors would have a very defined and complimentary role to play – start-ups delivering innovation and speed, academia with independent science, established players with needs, and impact investors / venture capital with a deep understanding of the funds and methodology for assessing and nurturing start-ups.

An innovation model that minimises the risks for the buyers, the investors and the ecosystem. A model that makes adoption of innovations at scale and speed possible.

Innovation is infectious. Let make adoption of innovation even more infectious.

2: How can technology make the food value chain more resilient?

The boom in marketplaces, fintech, and agritech is a good example of technology and progressive business models improving the efficiency of food value chains. Ag and fintechs may cover an important gap in ag-financing and risk management – a salient problem for local farmers.

Take TerraMagna, for instance: this The Yield Lab portfolio company combines satellite imagery, cloud computing, and multiple sources of information. This gives credit and loan providers an easy way to monitor the crop receipts of agricultural loans, de-risking the process and making loans more affordable to the producer.

3: The ecosystem approach is still very young in ag-production – how can the feed sector in Latin America create advocacy for this as it transforms?

The agritech innovation ecosystem in Latin America is very young but shows impressive robustness, nonetheless. Latin America has the talent and the entrepreneurial spirit to not only to produce food, feed, and materials but also complete ag-technologies.

We are entering a new ag-revolution; the same way Brazil mastered tropical agriculture in the past 50 years, evolving from net food importer to a great food exporter to the world. Now is the time to come together and invest in the regional innovation ecosystem!

4: There is exponentially growing demand for sustainable solutions. How is this affecting the innovations market and capital raising?

Latin America has had a very positive year with approximately $1.4B invested and 40% more deals than in 2018. In terms of value, it is important to highlight that $1B went to Rappi in Colombia. Argentina was particularly active in its number of deals despite political turmoil in the second half of the year.

It is very exciting to see the interaction with venture capital becoming a significant factor in the regional ag-food tech innovation ecosystem. We should also highlight the importance of early stage investments, especially in the Latin American context; we are witnessing the birth of a nascent ag-food tech industry.

We are delighted to have had the opportunity to take part in such an important event; as a system’s player, our goal is to catalyse the adoption of sustainable innovations at the pace the planet needs it. Events like the World AgriTech Innovation Summit give Project X and like-minded organisations the platform to interact with other players in the industry, for which we are very grateful.

If this article has piqued your interest in the kind of discussions available through these events, we have good news! Project X has been invited to speak at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit on September 14th, 2020. Details at: http://bit.ly/30mxFsj

Why the AgriTech Sector Needs a system’s approach

Marcela Navarro, CEO and Co-Founder of Project X reflects on the World AgriTech Summit; uncovering the real reason why businesses hesitate to adopt sustainable solutions.

On the 29th and 30th of July, I had the opportunity to participate in the World AgriTech South America Summit as a speaker and panellist for the event’s discussions of Animal Health and Nutrition. I feel fiercely proud of the agritech industry when I take part in an event like this; it’s stirring to see experts and industry leaders come together to share critical intelligence and advance sustainability in the sector.

It’s crucial that knowledge exchanges continue to happen. These Summits are a great platform for this. As a species, we do not have the necessary resources to address current environmental crises, let alone the irreversible consequences of climate change that are projected to unfold in the next decade. We have been told time and time again that our trajectory is self-destructive; that we need to move forward.

So why are we procrastinating? This is one of the issues I was invited to the World AgriTech Summit to address. We believe that companies are reluctant to adjust because change is expensive, or because new solutions are time consuming. Are we asking the right questions? A key one that comes to mind is actually ‘what the true cost of low-cost ingredients. ’The cost of associated risks, resilience, reputation, natural capital. Are we accounting them in?

The lack of open information in the feed sector is a challenge and a bigger challenge is that there are still very few innovations adopted at scale. The Summit gives industry leaders a platform to disseminate valuable knowledge, but it is not enough to create change at the pace the planet needs it. The world has focussed too much on the push for innovations without building the foundation for buyers and investors to feel comfortable adopting new solutions.

This is where Project X comes in. Our role is catalytic; we accelerate innovations into global supply chains and global business. A fundamental principle of our mission is execution. We are committed to making adoption easy, dramatically reducing time to market. This brings tangible benefits for the buyers, the investors and the planet.
It’s an honour to hold the unique position of channelling the right investments, the right people, the right solutions; I am proud that the work we are undertaking in Project X is helping guide and accelerate these “invisible assets” into a system that needs them.

The journey hasn’t always been easy – there are times when I feel there is a need for systemic change particularly keenly. As a Latin American woman in business, I have experienced what it is like to be considered a bit bossy, a bit loud and clearly intense, for not conforming with what some of you have probably heard before, more than a bit “this is not the way things work in here”. I have seen brilliant people from minority groups be passed over despite their talent. We need to continue to address this. As we need to address the access gap for brilliant market ready innovators with the solutions we can all benefit from.

It is a fact that the world needs something different. I will continue to do what is necessary to help industries adapt in the right ways; together, we can be the change we want to see.

Marcela Navarro