29th January 2021
Founded in 2015 by Anders Gundersen, Sensonomic is an agritech company with a mission to boost profitability, resilience and long-term sustainability in global agriculture. Based out of Norway and London, the company creates innovative software solutions to help their clients optimise their operations sustainably.
Sustainability tech is poised to be a winner this year, featuring on just about every tech trend list for 2021. It’s a relatively new vertical and the true potential for technology on issues such as carbon emissions, supply chains, and environmental protection still remains untapped.
The impact of technology on agriculture is one area that has huge promise. Anders Gundersen, CEO of Sensonomic, is one tech founder who is working to employ data and AI in order to transform the agricultural system, and ensure that land usage can become more sustainable.
When people think of a tech start-up, they might not immediately think of agriculture. Indeed, Sensonomic is one of the most unique tenants at Level39. But as Anders points out, it actually fits nicely alongside the fintechs and financial institutions.
“So much of our current financial system was born from agriculture. It is the reason we have future markets, credit markets, derivatives – all these stem from the needs of agricultural systems. But whilst the financial sector has modernised dramatically in the centuries since, much of the agricultural system and processes remain the same.”
Sensonomic provides investors, landowners and farmers with decision making tools to ensure they can gain sustained profits from their land, providing data fusion tools which gather information from many different sources, from satellites to in-field measurements. The analytical output can guide farmers on when and where to pick produce to ensure higher margins, improving profitability by up to 20%.
Giving farmers the tools and information they need to better utilise their land is crucial for the future of our planet, Anders points out. “Agriculture is the biggest contributor to land use change in the world. We want to enable farmers to achieve higher profits from the land they already have through sustainable intensification rather than through exploitative expansion,”
Working with farmers across the world, from Portugal and Spain to Fiji and the Solomon Islands, Anders recognises that the travel restrictions implemented as a result of COVID has accelerated the urgency for agriculture to employ new technology and data. “Each year, thousands of pickers cross borders in Europe to assist in agriculture and their absence this year has meant ripening food has gone unpicked – resulting in losses across the continent. This is now reflected throughout the world. When labour is harder to come by, landowners and farmers need to make better choices – and technology is the enabler”
“In the past, innovation has been stilted by a lack of incentive. Agriculture – especially in Europe – relies on an array of subsidiaries. We don’t really have a functioning market without them and when you get incentives to purchase new tractors – but not new technology – farmers might not perceive investment in software to be worth the potential returns.”
It is also a generational element, Anders suggests, “The average age of the European farmer is 60 years old but the coming generation is much more tech savvy. I know farmers who have developed their own apps and that are using drones to understand their land – there is definitely a shift on the horizon.”
“In part, it is about empowering farmers and giving them more power in the global agricultural system. At the moment, this power lies with the large-scale distributors and buyers who set the market prices based on their own data and research, and in doing so, are able to extract more profit. Our tools give farmers their own understanding of how to extract more profitability from their crops. One of our upcoming projects will involve building a system for financial inclusion for coffee smallholders in Uganda – this is one of the best applications our technology can have. It’s to ensure that people who develop cash crops can get more sustained – and sustainable – incomes.”
Looking ahead the future of looks bright for Sensonomic, who have just been selected as one of four companies by the European Space Agency to join a new and exciting initiative called Aspire. In addition, they are also raising capital, closing a small round this month with plans to launch a Series A at the end of 2021.
“We are bullish in today’s market and there has never been a better time to be in agritech.”