By 2050 there is estimated to be an extra 2 billion mouths to feed. To support that we’ll need a 70% increase in crop production. The only problem is, we don’t have the labour to harvest what we currently produce. It’s a big problem and one that Kiwi business Axis7 is hoping to help solve with the help of robotics.
Meet the founders Josh Barnett and Scott Harvey. They are one of the start-ups taking part in our three-month Sprout 2022 Accelerator in the Cohort VIII intake.
“The macro problem we are trying to solve is the labour shortages for harvesting crops, we’re looking to reduce the reliance on manual labour using smart machines,” said Josh.
Focusing primarily on row crops, in particular brassicas, the team are developing a smart implement that would mean harvesting time would be quick and simple for growers. The team are well equipped to do so as well with a hefty background in agricultural robotics engineering and automation.
“Our biggest aspiration is really that we want crops to end up on shelves at a price point people can afford, not going to waste in the paddock,” said Scott.
“Long term we want to look at harvesting other high value row crops, and offering broader functionality,” adds Josh.
The Axis7 journey has been a slightly atypical one. The business first started out as an R&D service provider, their foray into product offerings is still early days but they’re confident in the value proposition of their idea. With their experience in the horticultural sector, the team have a solid understanding of what needs to be done in terms of robotics but also aligning that with what growers want and need for their operations.
“We’re not trying to sell anything too fancy, we’re keeping it lean, simple and useable with a focus on the economics. We know that a lot of machinery and technology is often underutilised in terms of how much time it sits doing nothing, and we acknowledge the huge opportunity there to create an implement that growers can get the most out of,” said Josh.
While the start of their journey with Axis7 was all about finding contracts and keeping the lights on, things have shifted now that they are looking to have a product offering. For a team heavy on engineering and technical know-how, the challenge has been in not getting bogged down in that side of things and focusing on the people side of their business.
“If we had to go back and start again with what we know now, I’d reach out to people more and put a greater focus on the business model and direction It’s all a journey and I think for us, our engineering backgrounds help us to logically solve the challenges we come up against,” said Josh.
They are excited to be working with Sprout to get good advice around their business model and how they articulate their vision as engineers to the world.
Find out more about our Sprout Accelerator.