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Climate Edge

Problem

Smallholder tropical agriculture has huge growth potential compared to developed agriculture. The problem is that in general the farmers, and farming associations, are poor, remotely located, and have poor access to novel technologies. In many high value export crops, application of precision agriculture on smallholdings has resulted in yields doubling over 2-3 years. This has been true in coffee and banana production, as well as many other crops. Whilst the opportunity is large, technology designed for developed agriculture simply does not translate into the tropical market easily. What is needed is a new approach specific to the developing context.

Solution

Climate Edge are developing low-cost weather stations (the NEXO) to affordably diagnose yield optimising opportunities for farmers. This data is fed into the Climate Edge 'Lab'; a place for researchers and academics to promote the uptake and exploitation of their work. The Lab will contain models on common farm management protocols such as irrigation, pest alerts and climate optimisation, and will be fully integrated with the high resolution data collected by our NEXO weather stations. By providing commercial opportunities for academic modellers, we reduce our R&D costs, thereby ensuring we can deliver our technology to farmers at an affordable price.

Uniqueness, Technology overview, barriers to competition

Our position in this market is as the infrastructure which allows information to transfer from research to farmer. First mover advantage will be important for us to secure a large market share. We are therefore protecting ourselves in two ways. The first is to invest in developing our own hardware, which enables us to begin delivering our service at a very competitive price to establish our brand in the sector whilst the market matures. Secondly, we are partnering with a number of leading research institutes which enables us to produce relevant content incredibly quickly, and at a very low cost.

Market size and analysis

The market potential is enormous for smallholder precision agriculture. However, initially we will target two customer segments which pose the lowest hanging fruit. The first segment is exporters who source from outgrower schemes, and the second are producers who are organised within producer organisations. These provide easier access routes to market, and clear value propositions.

Our initial market will be Colombia as a relatively mature market. Two key export crops, Banana and Coffee, are grown over 50,000 and 150,000 ha respectively in Colombia. This presents an initial total addressable market target of $4million at $20/pa per hectare.

Traction

We are looking to release our products officially mid-2019. Before that point we are begin to scale-up through targeted partnerships: for example, we are working with Producers Direct in Uganda later this year (2018) where we will be installing 40 weather stations across coffee farms. We have also set up an MVP trial with a coffee cooperative in Honduras.

Core Team

Co-founders James Alden and Paul Baranowski graduated from Imperial College with an MSc in Environmental Technology. Together with Product Designer Gabriel Brueckner (MSc/MA in Global Innovation Design) they designed and built the NEXO prototype which was successfully piloted on coffee farms in Nicaragua. James and Paul were awarded Young Development Agriculturalists by the Tropical Agriculture Association for this work. Director Peter Baker’s (previously of CABI and HRNS) longstanding expertise in Coffee has positioned Climate Edge with strong links to coffee producing organisations and exporters. The team has now expanded through experienced electrical engineer (James Torbett) and software developer (Gilles Cochez).
First Name Last Name Job Title Impressive Facts
James Alden CEO James was awarded Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year jointly with COO Paul. Whilst working for Imperial College London, James was responsible for business plan development of EC H2020 project 'EMPHASIS'.
Paul Baranowski COO Paul was also awarded Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year alongside James. Paul was invited to give a presentation to an FAO committee in Panama regarding climate smart adaptation.
Gabriel Brueckner Product Designer Gabriel has worked and studied in a multitude of countries including the US, Korea and Japan. Giving him a practical understanding of global design.

Ask, use of proceeds, milestones

- CE marking of NEXO weather station in preparation for market sales within EU. - On-boarding of additional software development team members, and statistical modeller. - Reduction of manufacturing costs to improve profit margin. - Marketing to increase scale within initial markets.

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