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How pitch training can help startups get their story right



When you hire a marketing consultant, you don’t necessarily expect to wind up discussing your life’s purpose. Yet, that is what Spanish marketing expert and entrepreneur Alex Barrera often ends up doing with startup founders who hire him to help improve their pitch. They think they are going to get help convincing investors, and they do, but the byproduct of the process is that they reframe their startup’s vision.

In this context, ethical and philosophical considerations aren’t that far away, because more often than not, this includes a deep look at how their company impacts society. “The days where you could do whatever you wanted and dive into grey legal or moral areas are dwindling,” Barrera says. “Growth companies need to be careful about the potential fallouts of pursuing such strategies. While there are still plenty of investors that push for “growth at any cost,” the social pressure is changing and it’s suddenly becoming costlier to take such stances.”

You may have spotted Barrera’s cowboy hat at one of the many startup conferences he is involved with as a mentor, judge, host or speaker — and he does wear many hats.

Having previously co-founded two startup accelerators and Europe-focused tech publication, he now authors The Aleph Report, a periodical publication on cutting-edge technology and its implications. But it is through his Press42 venture that he collaborates with startups and corporations on organizational storytelling and strategic communications, and it is also what we discussed in the interview below (which has been edited for length and clarity).

TechCrunch is asking founders who have worked with growth marketers to share a recommendation in this survey. We’ll use your answers to find more experts to interview.

What do people often misunderstand about pitch training?

Well, it depends on their experience level. When first-time entrepreneurs hear about pitching, they immediately think of the infamous “elevator pitch,” roll their eyes and moan. For those with a bit more experience, pitching is about a set of slides to achieve a certain goal, mostly funding. However, seasoned managers end up discovering that telling the story of their product or service is not a one-way street. Having to sell a future vision of where the company is heading invariably affects your conception of the product in the now and what you need to build to achieve it. The vision impacts the product, because you need consistency between the product and storytelling.

What type of companies do you help?

I have been helping startups with pitching for years. This used to be mostly early-stage startups, and in groups, with accelerators and startup competitions calling me to help their entire batch or portfolio. I still provide that sort of training, but these days I will more often work one-on-one with a single client that is at a later stage. And I also sometimes work with tech companies getting ready for M&As, as well as large corporations.

“I don’t work with companies that sell smoke and mirrors or hurt society because they shamelessly disregard any responsibility for their impact on others.”

What is your sweet spot for startups you work with?

For one-on-one work, I have a preference for David versus Goliath, and less sexy spaces. I love these companies that were built without the noise: There’s a lack of hubris, they are really humble, but the numbers are there — the founders could be obnoxious, but it’s the opposite. I don’t work with companies that sell smoke and mirrors or hurt society because they shamelessly disregard any responsibility for their impact on others.

Luckily, that’s rarely the case of people who call me. Usually, they are a bit out of the circuit, and they often have impostor syndrome. So my work is also about helping them understand what they can be proud of what they do, and then how to show that in their pitch. They value talking to someone who understands them and their challenges. I spend a lot of time doing research on all verticals and thinking about the future, so the conversation will typically go like this: “Dude, you get it!”

What is one of your favorite things about one-on-one pitch-related consulting work?

I find it very fulfilling to see how much value it brings to those involved. I am also a developer, and I do project management, but most of the consulting I do is not the kind of growth marketing stuff that takes more time to show results. When you do growth hacking at the product level, it takes time to see the impact, and even then, it’s not always easy to connect the dots.

When we work together on their pitch, CEOs can instantly see if the new pitch resonates or not; and they also know if the exercise itself worked for them. Working on a pitch requires a lot of reflection and it entails a lot of tension between you and the CEO.

This is especially true at the beginning, when you keep questioning why they did this or that, what the product provides and to whom, or why it grew here and not there. All these questions force many founders and managers to stop and think hard about the product, the market or the roadmap. Sometimes it pushes them to provide data to back up certain claims. The process pushes them to revisit old biases, beliefs or even myths around their company. Many people are surprised by how much clarity they gain into their company when they work on a pitch.

Do you only work with founders and executives?

Sometimes, the clarity and the strategic insight that working on a pitch provides to founders or CXOs becomes a trigger for them wanting to provide that level of understanding to other areas of the company, like sales, customer support or even the product team. In my case, being a developer myself enables me to switch and adapt my process to any layer of the organization, including the development team.

This is rare, but it eventually turns me into a kind of translator of the challenges of different parts of an organization, acting ultimately as the connector bridging different perceptions. In the end, that’s exactly what storytelling provides. It’s not just a tool for pitching, it’s a brutally effective way to communicate between humans, especially around challenging topics.

How would you describe the value that executives get from your collaboration?

One of the usual and even surprising values for most executives is the insight the process provides. When someone is running either a big company or a scaleup, their day to day is all about growing. They rarely have time to sit down and think about where they’re heading in terms of future product. They do have a roadmap, and their KPIs, but I rarely see a strong future vision broken down into steps.

The pitching process provides them with two valuable things: time and perception. Time because as they’re paying me, they’re stuck with me and need to allocate time for our sessions. That bubble, and the need to build a coherent story that tells why the company is at that particular point, create tremendous insight for most. And then, there’s perception. It’s funny because they’re the ones that provide all the pieces of the picture, I just help them put them together and then point at the obvious.

This process is very rewarding at a personal level for them. It helps them build a confidence that, while it was always there, it rarely shone through the pitch before. It also makes them reflect on where they want to go next, not just from a product perspective, but from a mission’s perspective. It reconnects them with that side that most of us care about, and the personal questions we ask ourselves about life and meaning.

How do you bridge the gap between what your clients already know and what’s next?

My clients already know how to grow a company. I always keep this in mind, not just with startups, but also with big corporations — too often, I see consultants talking to them and starting by telling: “You are doing it wrong!” Well, they got to where they are, didn’t they? It doesn’t mean that they don’t need help, but you can make them see that, you don’t have to dismiss what they have achieved. I see myself as the person that helps them get to the next level and build on top of what they have already done. Sometimes it takes some bruising to get there, but there is always massive respect for their achievements.

These people are very good professionals. It’s not that they don’t see or can’t see the vision. It’s that the need to connect the dots in detail allows for the emergence of a strategic vision of the organization. Now, here is where the real “coaching” kicks in. When such a picture emerges, many founders or executives tend to shy away from it. They have a hard time believing that they might be onto something groundbreaking or actually winning in their respective markets.

This is especially true for many scaleup companies. They’ve been fighting, first for market fit, and later on for market share, that they freeze at the possibility that they might be doing a fantastic job. Part of my role is precisely to break through their impostor syndrome and encourage them to be bolder, to believe in themselves, to trust the data.

How do you promote your services?

Well, it would be very hard for me to do cold calling. I wouldn’t be able to say: “It’s not just about pitching, you are going to see the future of your company!” — so I stopped even trying to market that. My best marketing tool is word of mouth from my clients, or even from people that see me perform on stage. But even then, people call for help with a specific milestone, like raising a round. It’s only through the process that they see that there’s way more to it. They begin to understand other parts about themselves that either enhance their capacity to raise more funds, or even take them to the next level like an acquisition or the development of a major breakthrough.

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What do you end up actually working on with founders?

Going higher up the chain, the pitch becomes a very powerful tool not just for fundraising, but also for thinking about your company strategically. It’s a place where founders can reach clarity about their strategy and what really matters — questions they don’t have time for on a day-to-day basis. They allocate time to it because they think it will help with fundraising, and then they find out that it helps them understand their company.

So typically, they will call me because they are raising a Series B round, or a very large A round. They realize that to unlock the next milestone, they need to fine-tune what they say. The game is different; it’s not about market fit anymore, or just about gaining market share, and what worked for them just no longer works — especially if they were semi-bootstrapped up to that point. They need to talk to someone who understands them and can help them prepare for the future, for instance by researching certain pitfalls or trends. I’m not just the guy that “pitches” but the guy that’s going to provide you with ammo to help you build a compelling case for your audience, whatever it is. The pitch is just an excuse!

“The thing is, scaleups and growth-stage startups have a choice in how they market themselves; so they need to be aware of ethical concerns that may arise sooner than later.”

What’s your take on comparing your startup to another one when pitching; for instance, calling yourself the “Uber for X”?

Analogies are very powerful. The major challenge when you are pitching any company, even a late-stage one, is that people have a tendency to put you in a box. So you have two options: either you let them do it, or you provide the tools to put you in a box. That’s where analogies work really well.

But then, who do you compare yourself to? It’s a challenge, because two elements are becoming increasingly important: capturing the right trends of the moment, and the ethics of how you do what you do. You want to control which box they place you, ideally one that’s trendy but at the same time one that doesn’t position you in apparently direct competition with someone you don’t want to be associated with.

Why do startups need to be careful when communicating?

Over the last few years, we have seen how startups are no longer seen as innocent by society; they no longer have “carte blanche,” and society is becoming a lot more sensitive. There’s a polarization issue around many topics, and we are increasingly going to see a clash between society and startups. It is even going to increase post-COVID, with tensions around automation versus jobs. And the thing is, scaleups and growth-stage startups have a choice in how they market themselves; so they need to be aware of ethical concerns that may arise sooner than later.

Society is going to ask you for responsibility. What’s happening with big brands is trickling down, and scaleups are hitting that threshold sooner. Typically, it catches them unprepared, because they reach that stage only knowing local feelings about what they do, and suddenly getting national or regional blowback. Or they expand internationally with local operations led by really young people with no experience in dealing with politics, who suddenly face strong local blowback.

All of this has a lot to do with pitching, because it’s not about product anymore. So for instance, it’s about convincing public authorities at different levels to let you operate, when their incentives are very different from investors. It’s B2G2C — business to government to consumer. And we are seeing more and more startups, with regulation as a factor in their operations.

How can you talk to public authorities, customers and investors in a unified pitch?

The major pitch needs to bring all elements together. It needs to be clear on what you do, and hit the right notes on ethical concerns. It’s important both for regulators and for fundraising; because from the investors’ perspective, it also reduces uncertainty around your business. As a scaleup, your ability to scale is a concern, so it helps to show that you are thinking and planning around societal impact.

I have to say that an increasing amount of investors do genuinely care about this. It may be because they have been burned, for instance from seeing regulatory blowback firsthand, or just because they are growing conscious. There are still some investors that have the “Uber mindset” and only care about muscle — grow first, and only then, deal with regulators — but more and more, VCs are aware that this might not fly, because society is changing. The pandemic is just highlighting this even more.

What about startups? Do they also care more about their societal impact?

I think it’s a pendulum, and the current generation is a child of the previous regulatory blowback. Crypto might still be on the other side, but increasingly, startups are aware that there are societal implications they will have to deal with. I also try to bring that message across when I prepare my clients to pitch — and warn that it sometimes happens very quickly: We’ve seen how one prohibition in one place can spread like wildfire. So you need to regulate your initial message and also be prepared to adapt quickly.

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From Red Gold to Olympic Gold: Seedo Corp. Seeks Solutions for Athletes and More



Seedo Corp. highlights saffron’s medicinal properties as mental health takes center stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

TEL AVIV, Israel, August 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ – Seedo Corp. (OTC: SEDO), an agtech company that is developing the protocols to grow saffron using vertical farming technology, today announced that it is expanding its research to include the study of the spice’s well known natural anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties. Similar to the approach of the indoor cannabis industry, Seedo hopes to be able to enhance the medicinal properties of this unique herb for use in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. Mental health has come to the forefront in sports with Simone Biles withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics and Naomi Osaka opting out of the French Open and Wimbledon. With mental health entering the cultural conversation, Seedo Corp. hopes saffron will be seen as part of a new nature-based approach to mental health.

“The timing is right to leverage saffron’s potential medicinal properties and create new applications that could address the recent paradigm shift regarding mental health,” says David Freidenberg, CEO. “Seedo Corp is committed to developing breakthroughs rooted in nature that are effective and safe for athletes and everyday consumers alike.”

“Until recently, the options for treating depression and anxiety were quite limited,” says Dr.  Nizan Primor, CEO, Naveh Pharma, a company that specializes in creating pharmaceutical and healthcare products with unique active ingredients including saffron. “A recent study found that taking 28 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as Fluoxetine, Imipramine, and Citalopram — conventional treatments for depression.”A fascinating study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Psychopharmacology which explicitly found that saffron extract has the same efficacy as Ritalin in improving focus for children with ADHD, suggesting there is a promising future in developing new natural therapies to treat these common ailments. In another recent study by the Journal of Psychopharmacology it was discovered that patients who were administered saffron extract for eight weeks saw “a greater improvement in depressive symptoms.”

Seedo Corp successfully harvests saffron using vertical farming technology. Seedo Corp hopes to expand the billion dollar saffron market by producing a reliable, consistent and large-scale supply of the spice.

About Seedo:

Seedo Corp. (OTC: SEDO) is an agtech company that focuses on the research, development, and commercialization of agriculture products that are high in demand but are hindered by the low yields and specifications required by traditional farming. Seedo’s technology is aimed at offering a responsible and sustainable way to grow crops in a world confronted by environmental challenges and dwindling earth reserves, diminishing water sources and unstable weather conditions.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This letter contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which are based on management’s current beliefs and expectations and are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties, both known and unknown, that could cause our future results, performance or achievements to differ significantly from that expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include risks relating to our ability to successfully execute a smooth transition of CFO functions as well as our ability to retain and recruit qualified executives; uncertainties related to, and failure to achieve, the potential benefits and success of our senior management team and organizational structure; our ability to successfully compete in the marketplace; our substantial indebtedness, which may limit our ability to incur additional indebtedness, engage in additional transactions or make new investments; compliance, regulatory and litigation matters; other financial and economic risks; and other factors discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, including in the sections captioned “Risk Factors” and “Forward Looking Statements.” Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements or other information contained herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. You are cautioned not to put undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

David Freidenberg,

Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]
+1 (800) 608-6432

Source: Plato Data Intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence

Eli Lilly joins $30M Series A financing for startup bringing AI analysis to endoscopy



Jonathan Ng, Iterative Scopes

The artificial intelligence-based technology of Iterative Scopes brings computer vision analysis to endoscopic images. The startup’s technology was initially developed to assist gastroenterologists in finding pre-cancerous polyps but CEO and founder Jonathan Ng said it’s also finding additional use helping pharmaceutical companies identify patients for clinical trials.

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Researchers Working to Improve Autonomous Vehicle Driving Vision in the Rain 



By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor 

To help autonomous cars navigate safely in the rain and other inclement weather, researchers are looking into a new type of radar.  

Self-driving vehicles can have trouble “seeing” in the rain or fog, with the car’s sensors potentially blocked by snow, ice or torrential downpours, and their ability to “read” road signs and road markings impaired. 

Many autonomous vehicles rely on lidar radar technology, which works by bouncing laser beams off surrounding objects to give a high-resolution 3D picture on a clear day, but does not do so well in fog, dust, rain or snow, according to a recent report from abc10 of Sacramento, Calif. 

“A lot of automatic vehicles these days are using lidar, and these are basically lasers that shoot out and keep rotating to create points for a particular object,” stated Kshitiz Bansal, a computer science and engineering Ph.D. student at University of California San Diego, in an interview. 

The university’s autonomous driving research team is working on a new way to improve the imaging capability of existing radar sensors, so they more accurately predict the shape and size of objects in an autonomous car’s view.  

Dinesh Bharadia, professor of electrical and computer engineering,UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

“It’s a lidar-like radar,” stated Dinesh Bharadia, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, adding that it is an inexpensive approach. “Fusing lidar and radar can also be done with our techniques, but radars are cheap. This way, we don’t need to use expensive lidars.” 

The team places two radar sensors on the hood of the car, enabling the system to see more space and detail than a single radar sensor. The team conducted tests to compare their system’s performance on clear days and nights, and then with foggy weather simulation, to a lidar-based system. The result was the radar plus lidar system performed better than the lidar-alone system.  

“So, for example, a car that has lidar, if it’s going in an environment where there is a lot of fog, it won’t be able to see anything through that fog,” Bansaid stated. “Our radar can pass through these bad weather conditions and can even see through fog or snow,” he stated.  

The team uses millimeter radar, a version of radar that uses short-wavelength electromagnetic waves to detect the range, velocity and angle of objects.   

20 Partners Working on AI-SEE in Europe to Apply AI to Vehicle Vision 

Enhanced autonomous vehicle vision is also the goal of a project in Europe—called AI-SEE—involving startup Algolux, which is cooperating with 20 partners over a period of three years to work towards Level 4 autonomy for mass-market vehicles. Founded in 2014, Algolux is headquartered in Montreal and has raised $31.8 million to date, according to Crunchbase.  

The intent is to build a novel robust sensor system supported by artificial intelligence enhanced vehicle vision for low visibility conditions, to enable safe travel in every relevant weather and lighting condition such as snow, heavy rain or fog, according to a recent account from AutoMobilSport.    

The Algolux technology employs a multisensory data fusion approach, in which the sensor data acquired will be fused and simulated by means of sophisticated AI algorithms tailored to adverse weather perception needs. Algolux plans to provide technology and domain expertise in the areas of deep learning AI algorithms, fusion of data from distinct sensor types, long-range stereo sensing, and radar signal processing.  

Dr. Werner Ritter, Consortium Lead, Mercedes Benz AG: “Algolux is one of the few companies in the world that is well versed in the end-to-end deep neural networks that are needed to decouple the underlying hardware from our application,” stated Dr. Werner Ritter, consortium lead, from Mercedes Benz AG. “This, along with the company’s in-depth knowledge of applying their networks for robust perception in bad weather, directly supports our application domain in AI-SEE.”  

The project will be co-funded by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Business Finland, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF under the PENTA EURIPIDES label endorsed by EUREKA. 

Nvidia Researching Stationary Objects in its Driving Lab  

The ability of the autonomous car to detect what is in motion around it is crucial, no matter the weather conditions, and the ability of the car to know which items around it are stationary is also important, suggests a recent blog post in the Drive Lab series from Nvidia, an engineering look at individual autonomous vehicle challenges. Nvidia is a chipmaker best known for its graphic processing units, widely used for development and deployment of applications employing AI techniques.   

The Nvidia lab is working on using AI to address the shortcomings of radar signal processing in distinguishing moving and stationary objects, with the aim of improving autonomous vehicle perception.   

Neda Cvijetic, autonomous vehicles and computer vision research, Nvidia

“We trained a DNN [deep neural network] to detect moving and stationary objects, as well as accurately distinguish between different types of stationary obstacles, using data from radar sensors,” stated Neda Cvijetic, who works on autonomous vehicles and computer vision for Nvidia; the author of the blog post. In her position for about four years, she previously worked as a systems architect for Tesla’s Autopilot software.   

Ordinary radar processing bounces radar signals off of objects in the environment and analyzes the strength and density of reflections that come back. If a sufficiently strong and dense cluster of reflections comes back, classical radar processing can determine this is likely some kind of large object. If that cluster also happens to be moving over time, then that object is probably a car, the post outlines. 

While this approach can work well for inferring a moving vehicle, the same may not be true for a stationary one. In this case, the object produces a dense cluster of reflections that are not moving. Classical radar processing would interpret the object as a railing, a broken down car, a highway overpass or some other object. “The approach often has no way of distinguishing which,” the author states. 

A deep neural network is an artificial neural network with multiple layers between the input and output layers, according to Wikipedia. The Nvidia team trained their DNN to detect moving and stationary objects, as well as to distinguish between different types of stationary objects, using data from radar sensors.  

Specifically, we trained a DNN to detect moving and stationary objects, as well as accurately distinguish between different types of stationary obstacles, using data from radar sensors.  

Training the DNN first required overcoming radar data sparsity problems. Since radar reflections can be quite sparse, it’s practically infeasible for humans to visually identify and label vehicles from radar data alone. However, Lidar data, which can create a 3D image of surrounding objects using laser pulses, can supplement the radar data. “In this way, the ability of a human labeler to visually identify and label cars from lidar data is effectively transferred into the radar domain,” the author states. 

The approach leads to improved results. “With this additional information, the radar DNN is able to distinguish between different types of obstacles—even if they’re stationary—increase confidence of true positive detections, and reduce false positive detections,” the author stated. 

Many stakeholders involved in fielding safe autonomous vehicles, find themselves working on similar problems from their individual vantage points. Some of those efforts are likely to result in relevant software being available as open source, in an effort to continuously improve autonomous driving systems, a shared interest. 

Read the source articles and information from abc10 of Sacramento, Calif., from AutoMobilSport and in a blog post in the Drive Lab series from Nvidia. 

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Ag-tech Employing AI and Range of Tools With Dramatic Results 



By AI Trends Staff  

An agricultural technology (ag-tech) startup in San Francisco, Plenty, plants its crops vertically indoors, in a year-round operation employing AI and robots that uses 95% less water and 99% less land than conventional farming. 

Plenty’s vertical farm approach can produce the same quantity of fruits and vegetables as a 720-acre flat farm, on only two acres.    

Nate Storey, cofounder and chief science officer of the startup Plenty

“Vertical farming exists because we want to grow the world’s capacity for fresh fruits and vegetables, and we know it’s necessary,” stated Nate Storey, cofounder and chief science officer of the startup Plenty, in an account in Intelligent Living 

The yield of 400x that of flat farms makes vertical farming “not just an incremental improvement,” and the fraction of water use “is also critical in a time of increasing environmental stress and climate uncertainty,” Storey stated. “All of these are truly game-changers.”  

Plenty is one of hundreds of ag-tech startups using new technology approaches—including AI, drones, robots and IoT sensors—being supported with billions of investments from the capital markets.     

Plenty’s climate-controlled indoor farm has rows of plants growing vertically, hung from the ceiling. LED lights mimicking the sun shine on the plants; robots move them around; AI manages all the variables of water, temperature, and light. The AI continuously learns and optimizes how to grow better crops.   

Also, vertical farms can be located in urban areas resulting in locally-produced food, with many transportation miles eliminated. Benefits of locally-produced crops include reduction of CO2 emissions from transportation vehicles and potentially lower prices for consumers.    

“Supply-chain breakdowns resulting from COVID-19 and natural disruptions like this year’s California wildfires demonstrate the need for a predictable and durable supply of products can only come from vertical farming,” Storey stated.  

Plenty has received $400 million in investment capital from SoftBank, former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. It also struck a deal with Albertsons stores in California to supply 430 stores with fresh produce.  

Bowery Farming in New York City Supplying 850 Grocery Stores  

Another indoor farming venture is Bowery Farming in New York City, which has raised $467.5 million so far in capital, according to Crunchbase. Experiencing growth during the pandemic, the company’s produce is now available in 850 grocery stores, including Albertsons, Giant Good, Walmart and Whole Foods, according to an account in TechCrunch.   

The infusion of new capital, $300 million in May, “is an acknowledgement of the critical need for new solutions to our current agricultural system,” stated CEO Irving Fain in a release. “This funding not only fuels our continued expansion but the ongoing development of our proprietary technology, which sits at the core of our business and our ability to rapidly and efficiently scale toward an increasingly important opportunity in front of us,” Fain stated. 

The company plans to expand to new locations in the US, including a new site located in an industrial area in Bethlehem, Penn., which Bowery says will be its largest to date.  

blog post on the company’s website describes the BoweryOS as the “central nervous system” of each farm, offering plants individual attention at scale. “It works by collecting billions of data points through an extensive network of sensors and cameras that feed into proprietary machine-learning algorithms that are interpreted by the BoweryOS in real time,” the account states. In addition, “It gets smarter with each grow cycle, gaining a deeper understanding about the conditions each crop truly needs to thrive.”  

Ag-tech Spending Projected to Reach $15.3 Billion by 2025 

Global spending on smart, connected ag-tech systems including AI and machine learning, is projected to trip by 2025, to reach $15.3 billion, according to BI Intelligence Research, quoted in a recent account in Forbes. 

IoT-enabled ag-tech is the fastest growing segment, projected to reach $4.5 billion by 2025, according to PwC. 

Demand should be there. Prediction data on population and hunger from the United Nations shows the world population increasing by two billion people by 2050, requiring a 60% increase in food production. AI and ML are showing the potential to help meet the increased requirement for food.   

Louis Columbus, author and principal of Dassault Systemes, supplier of manufacturing software

“AI and ML are already showing the potential to help close the gap in anticipated food needs,” stated the author of the Forbes article, Louis Columbus, a principal of Dassault Systemes, supplier of manufacturing software.  

AI and machine learning are well-suited to tackle challenges in farming. “Imagine having at least 40 essential processes to keep track of, excel at and monitor at the same time across a large farming area often measured in the hundreds of acres,” Columbus stated.” Gaining insight into how weather, seasonal sunlight, migratory patterns of animals, birds, insects, use of specialized fertilizers, insecticides by crop, planting cycles and irrigation cycles all affect yield is a perfect problem for machine learning,” he stated.  

Among a list of ways AI has the potential to improve agriculture in 2021, he offered:  

Using AI and machine learning-based surveillance systems for monitoring. Real-time video feeds of every crop can be used to send alerts immediately after an animal or human breech, very practical for remote farms. Twenty20 Solutions is a leader in the field of AI and machine learning-based surveillance.  

Improve crop yield prediction with real-time sensor data and visual analytics data from drones. Farms have access to data sets from smart sensors and drones they have never had before. Now it’s possible to access data from in-ground sensors on moisture, fertilizer, and nutrient levels, to analyze growth patterns for each crop over time. Infrared imagery and real-time video analytics also provide farmers with new insights.  

Smart tractors and agribots—robots designed for agricultural purposes—using AI and machine learning are a viable option for many agricultural operations that struggle to find workers. Self-propelled agribots can be programmers for example to distribute fertilizer on each row of crops, in a way to keep operating costs down and improve yields. Robots from VineScout are used to create crop maps, then help manage crops, especially in wine vineyards. Based in Portugal, the project has been backed by the European Union and multiple investors.  

Read the source articles and information in Intelligent Living, in TechCrunch and in Forbes. 

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