The agricultural sector is facing significant challenges, from economics to population growth to environmental impacts. AgTech offers sustainable solutions that can improve productivity, reduce environmental impact, and ensure food security.
The global AgTech market is projected to reach $20.25 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 13.5%.
Nebraska and the Midwest have deep-rooted traditions in agriculture, making up a substantial portion of the nation's farming and livestock production. This strong foundation provides a unique advantage for the region to lead in AgTech development. We stand at the cusp of an agricultural revolution that could reshape the global AgTech landscape.
As Ed Prosser, Senior Vice President of Emerging Businesses for Scoular, rightly pointed out, "Agriculture is going to change more in the next five years than it has in the last fifty."
Now is the opportune moment to seize this momentum and lead the way in AgTech innovation.
Historically, the AgTech innovation landscape has been dominated by traditional "venture capital and innovation hubs" such as San Francisco, New York, and Massachusetts. While these regions have seen considerable investment, they often lack the deep connection and understanding of agriculture that Nebraska and the Midwest possess. As a result, many AgTech ventures failed to make a lasting impact or even survive. They not only lacked the proximity to agriculture, but they’ve failed to understand the real problems in agriculture and appreciate how the agriculture value chain operates.
However, times are changing, and the AgTech movement is shifting gears towards America's heartland. Nebraska has emerged as a vibrant technology ecosystem that punches above its weight, becoming an attractive destination for entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers alike. The state's rich agricultural legacy, coupled with a growing focus on AgTech and broader agriculture space, has set the stage for transformative change.
A Unique Opportunity to Plant the Flag
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Invest Nebraska, Grit Road Partners, and the University of Nebraska, among others, have recognized the immense potential in the AgTech sector. Their initiatives, such as The Combine by Invest Nebraska, Grit Road Partners founded by Mike Jung and Invest Nebraska, and AgTech-focused innovation programs at the University of Nebraska, are catalyzing the growth of AgTech startups in the region.
As more resources and support are directed toward AgTech ventures, Nebraska and the Midwest have seen a significant surge in entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs are now eager to develop cutting-edge solutions that address the challenges facing modern agriculture, ranging from climate change to sustainable food production.
Driving Economic Development through Innovation
Nebraska's vision extends beyond becoming a leader in global agriculture. By championing AgTech, the state aims to drive economic development by attracting investment and fostering job growth in the region. As AgTech solutions gain traction, they have the potential to not only revolutionize farming practices but also to create opportunities in data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technology sectors.
Global Impact and Market Access
By positioning themselves as the global AgTech hub, Nebraska and the Midwest can export their innovations and expertise to the rest of the world. As the global population continues to grow, the demand for sustainable and efficient agriculture solutions will soar. By leading the AgTech movement, Nebraska can offer solutions that address the pressing challenges of food security, resource conservation, and environmental sustainability on a global scale.
Overcoming Challenges through Collaboration
While the prospects are promising, challenges will undoubtedly arise on the path to becoming the global AgTech hub. Funding, regulatory frameworks, and bridging the gap between traditional agriculture and technology sectors will be crucial areas to address. However, with continued collaboration between farmers/producers, public and private sectors, universities, research institutions, and entrepreneurs, these hurdles can be overcome.
Leading the AgTech Movement
“The time is ripe for Nebraska and the Midwest to take the reins of the AgTech movement. Their unique agricultural legacy and infrastructure, thriving technology ecosystem, and growing community of entrepreneurs put them at the forefront of innovation in the industry. As Nebraska plants the flag as the global AgTech hub, it has the potential not only to shape the future of agriculture within its borders but to influence the trajectory of sustainable food production worldwide.”
- Ben Williamson, Managing Director of both Invest Nebraska and Grit Road Partners, explained.
Together, through collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision, Nebraska and the Midwest can cultivate a thriving AgTech ecosystem that sustains the planet, empowers farmers, and secures food for generations to come.
As we stand on the threshold of a new agricultural era, it is with great anticipation that we help Nebraska and the Midwest embrace the challenge, knowing that the seeds of innovation we plant today will yield a bountiful harvest for the world tomorrow. Cliché? Yep. Achievable? You bet.
What is The Combine?
Invest Nebraska's Combine Incubator is a statewide initiative focused on supporting high-growth agri-food entrepreneurs through mentoring, commercialization support, physical incubation space on Nebraska's Innovation Campus, and a network of helping farmers and ranchers across the state. Invest Nebraska is a private, non-profit statewide venture development organization focused on high-growth companies in Nebraska and growing the state's entrepreneurial economy. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers, and companies to help commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses, and access needed capital.