Join the revolution

Globally, we’ve hit an AgriTech revolution with annual investments in AgriTech hitting ten billion dollars for the past two years but Adrian Percy doesn’t think it’s enough. With over 30 years of experience, the executive director of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative wants to see more corporations tap into the open innovation ecosystem and take advantage of the opportunities on their doorstep.

“I think it's incredible when you think 10 billion has been invested each year in AgTech, which is so, so important, but if you compare that to the pharmaceutical industry we'd hardly rank on the charts,” Percy says.

“It’s exciting to see new nimble, fast-moving companies with really innovative technology and if the corporate sector was more connected we could really move things forward in a transformational way.”

He explains company culture and the appetite for risk will impact decisions to become involved but thinks it’s worth getting started.

“Each big company has a slightly different appetite for risk and will be considering strategies to mitigate that risk to an acceptable level for them. Experimentation and investment in companies outside of their corporate structure is a route that more and more companies are taking to achieve this.”

Sprout CEO Gil Meron is a big advocate for corporates utilising the agility of startups to boost innovation.

“Internationally, about 30% of all venture deals have some level of corporate participation, but our numbers in New Zealand are far lower than that,” Meron says.

“And that’s a shame because there are a lot of opportunities for corporates and startups to take advantage of each other.”

“Corporates are great at commercialising and growing whereas start-ups are great at iterating and failing, fast.”

When corporates engage with startups they could hear about new technology trends and it creates chances for cross-pollination to bring innovations across industries. It can also give engineers and researchers opportunities to see things they wouldn’t in their day to day.

”One of the best ways for corporates to get started is to engage with a startup, provide inputs on what’s expected from the product or service and then commit early on to be a client, helping shape that start-up's future.”

“We also encourage corporates to strategically engage through organisations like Sprout as that allows them to get a broader view on what’s out there, enjoy the broader engagement and truly take advantage of the open innovation ecosystem.”