Thanks to the EIT Food initiative, agritech companies can test and improve their innovative solutions collaboratively with farmers. All consumers will benefit from the fruits of this cooperation.
European farmers also face various challenges. The most significant include climate change, which largely determines the course of plant growth and affects the growth and cultivation of crops. Another challenge is the aging agricultural community, making finding successors to take over farms increasingly difficult.
Fortunately, initiatives supporting farmers in their daily work are flourishing. One such initiative is the Test Farms program, created by EIT Food experts. EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent body of the European Union.
The idea behind Test Farms is fundamentally simple and intuitive: agritech companies collaborate with farmers to test and improve solutions that help the sector increase the efficiency of harvested crops. Validated solutions in the fields also benefit consumers by increasing the durability of products and reducing production costs.
Benefits for agritech companies participating in the Test Farms program include refining their product and increasing recognition among potential customers and investors. Startups also gain access to resources within the EIT Food network, consisting of agricultural companies and research institutes. Financial support of €4,000 is also provided, which can be used to cover travel and testing costs. Tests can be conducted in a startup’s chosen country. This year, the project was implemented in Poland, Romania, Spain, and Italy.
The program has been in operation for five years, and during this time, 85 startups have benefited from its support. The continuous growth of the program is evident, as evidenced by FarmTech joining Test Farms in 2023. FarmTech, a subsidiary of TopFarms, seeks solutions in the field of regenerative agriculture and chose to test ideas developed in Greece and Hungary. Another indicator of the strong position of the Test Farms initiative is its ambitious plans for the next two years. In 2024, the program will include Nordic countries and Western Balkans, and in 2025, startups from across Europe will be able to participate in the tests.
The collaboration between agritech companies and farmers initiated through the Test Farms program can last up to a year if product tests require evaluating their effectiveness. The culmination of the initiative is the Demo Day.
Let’s look at the agricultural proposals currently being developed as part of the program:
- Greek startup farmAIr has constructed a drone to detect infections in plants at a very early stage of their growth. This is done through a combination of thermal and visual (RGB) imaging, supported by computer vision and AI.
- Hungarian startup Terra Carbono is testing its patented fertilizer to rebuild soil organic matter. The biostimulant in the form of granules improves soil moisture, the ability to retain nutrients, and the efficiency of fertilizer application. This rejuvenates the soil and simultaneously enhances plant resistance to infections.
- Czech agritech Agriception proposes to modernize precision farming machinery through the use of plug-and-play technology for advanced imaging and data processing (NDVI measurement) using multispectral cameras.
- Romanian startup Elpida Doctor Digital Plant Vaccine is working on the use of a biological preparation to protect plants from pathogenic factors.
- Mateusz Kocur, as part of Test Farms, is developing technology for electronic vibration stimulation, used for pollinating flowers in berry crops.
- Ukrainian company Parostok is refining technology for the protection and physical stimulation of germination and growth of grain seeds.
About EIT Food
EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.
Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations, and individuals that share our goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.
We are one of nine innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.
This article was created in partnership with EIT Food.