With the advance of healthcare and improvements in quality of living, the world is now living to older, riper ages.
But couple that with new births, and the result is a net increase in global population. According to the United Nations, that number is set to increase by 33% to 9.7 billion by 2050.
While good news for our sustained existence, this also brings about a very real problem. Food resources, or the worrisome lack thereof.
Most arable land has already been cultivated and oceans are seeing the consequences of overfishing. As such, one of the most important innovations of today is that of Agtech (Agricultural tech) and Foodtech. Types of Agtech include cultivating plants for food and medicines, as well as leveraging on data to streamline farming.
Silicon Valley and startups in USA and Europe have already started the ball rolling. Just from 2014 to 2015, investments in these sectors have doubled from US$ 2.6 bn to U$ 4.6 bn.
Although Asia has been seeing the introduction of startups like iGrow, eFishery and Happyfresh, Asia Pacific (APAC) has generally been slower on the uptake. And this is despite the fact that we are home to 60% of the world’s population.
In a bid to rectify this, ID Capital, a local investment and consulting firm, has launched a new startup award in conjunction with our Economic Development Board (EDB).
The first prize-winning competition in APAC, the FFAA aims to foster Agtech / Foodtech innovation with the goal of nurturing an “evolving food and agriculture technology landscape”.
The award is open to pre-Series A startups in Asia with at least USD 500,000 seed money, and who hope to raise USD 2 million or more within the next 18 months. The Grand Prize winner of FFAA will be awarded USD 100,000. In order to participate, startup applicants need to innovate technologies capable of positively impacting the food ecosystem in a sustainable manner.
The competition will officially open in January 2017, with the prize money being awarded in May 2017. The jury will consist of international finance and industry experts.
Entrepreneurs honouring sustainable development as their business core will also be able to network with investors and multinational companies to leverage on their expertise.
Why We Could (Probably) Win This
Singapore is a prime example of something, no matter how small, can revolutionise the world.
As Asia’s commodity trading and financing hub, there is no shortage of Agricultural and Food multinationals with regional headquarters here in Singapore. As such, our country is brimming with vibrancy as a business ecosystem for further Agtech / Foodtech innovation.
And now, the FFAA is set to drive this innovation even further along.
According to EDB’s Executive Director Lee Eng Keat, they are anticipating the FFAA to become a space to “catalyse the development and commercialisation of agri-technology solutions in Singapore.”
He added that the “innovation platform is aligned with EDB’s drive to establish Singapore as a leading centre for value creation by encouraging collaborations between companies.”
These sentiment are mirrored by Isabelle Decitre, CEO and founder of ID Capital.
“EDB’s commitment to fostering innovation and industrial partnerships will create the essential ecosystem for agriculture and food technologies to flourish in the region,” she noted. Already, promising startups have been shortlisted and the launch of FFAA is expected to bring in even more.
Singapore is already home to prominent Foodtech incubators such as AIA Accelerator and investors like Temasek. Meanwhile, local universities such as NUS and NTU are also trailblazing students in the development of food-related technology.
With the landing of the FFAA, it is safe to say that the future is looking fresh indeed. Sorry, but not sorry.
Featured Image Credit: fst.nus.edu