Our market traction analysis of automation start- ups confirms the progress in the market. First, the Mixing Bowl’s 2022 Crop Robotics Landscape reveals a dense market map, with more than 200 companies featured across production systems and product segments. Furthermore, clear progress is observed when measured in terms of funding received, number of paying customers and number of robots in service. Approximately 15 percent of participating start-ups in the 2022 survey have completed Round B funding or above, compared to 7 percent in the 2021 survey. More than 30 percent of start-ups have reached more than 20 paying customers, compared to 20 percent last year. In addition, more than 35 percent of participating start-ups have reached more than 10 robots in service, compared to 20 percent in 2021. In line with findings from the impact analysis, most progress has been made in the weeding segment, with various start-ups gaining traction as they meet grower economic targets. FarmWise, Verdant, Stout AgTech, Carbon Robotics and Naïo Technologies are leading the game. Burro continues to make headway on harvest-assist activities and has been able to demonstrate proven benefits to grape growers. Finally, harvest automation start-ups continue to make progress, with both Advanced.Farm and Tortuga AgTech expanding in terms of robots in service and scaling technologies across crops.
While progress is clearly visible, there is still a long way to go and a lot of room for technology innovators to bring much-needed solutions to the agriculture industry. Western Growers continues to be dedicated to accelerating automation technologies across the fresh produce industry. First, Western Growers, together with its global partners, launched FIRA USA in October 2022, gathering 1,000 attendees from various stakeholder groups. Second, Western Growers is delivering on a $750,000 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) grant to identify knowledge gaps in grower workforces, curriculum at community colleges that can fill the gaps, and marketing programs to help increase usage of the curriculum and deliver 3,000 agtech-ready students over four years. Third, work has begun on the first phase of the Tech Stack, an image library and will include four commodities with photos and tags to help reduce future startup R&D costs by providing ready-made image library.
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