Sprouting Innovation in Cleantech Agriculture
We took some time to talk with EIS Crop Sense and their Founder & CEO Saber Miresmailli (SM). We wanted to capture his perspective on the Agri-food industry and how his clean tech company is finding their place in the market.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Agri-food, it is simply food that is produced through agricultural methods (i.e. farming). It is pretty easy to understand right? Read about Saber’s outlook and his hopes for the future, including the Clean Technology Expo and Championship below.
AS A CLEAN TECHNOLOGY COMPANY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OVER THE REST OF THE INDUSTRY (AGRIFOOD), OR IS IT MORE OF AN INHIBITOR BECAUSE YOU’RE HELD TO HIGHER STANDARDS?
SM: We do have a competitive advantage because of our specific knowledge of plants signaling and behaviour. We also have in-depth knowledge and experience of the farming industry and understand the market dynamics and farmers’ decision making process for technology adoption. Having a perfect technology is not enough. It is important to build a solution for an existing problem.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST RECENT AND MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AGRI-FOOD AND AGRICULTURE MARKETS/INDUSTRY?
SM: The most recent development is in the area of digital farming and data-driven decision making. I remember back in 2006, when I presented the idea of intelligent crop monitoring, someone in the crowd stood up, looked me in the eyes and told me: “son, you watch too many movies!” Keep in mind that the iPhone was introduced in 2007. So over the span of 10 years, everyone, farmers included, became familiar with the concept of cloud-computing and big data. This cultural change extremely helped new technology companies to introduce novel products to the market without strong push back from farming communities.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE BARRIERS THAT ARE HOLDING BACK MANY OTHER COMPANIES FROM ENTERING THE CLEANTECH SPACE?
SM: My answer is specific to the agri-food sector. We need to educate the community (investors included) about the importance of food. The problem we are facing is that the food on the plate is sexy but the food on the plant is not. We need more community engagement and involvement in agri-food and cleantech. Agri-tech and clean-tech companies require more time to mature.
WHAT STEPS ARE YOU TAKING, IF ANY, TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF FOOD WASTE? CONSIDERING YOUR COMPANY IS CONCERNED WITH FOOD PRODUCTION WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO REDUCE PEST AND CLIMATE CONCERNS?
SM: At EIS, we detect minute changes in the health of plants at very early stages. We can detect stress caused by pests, diseases and deficiencies. We significantly reduce crop loss and ensure crop quality.
THIS INDUSTRY IS MASSIVE AS IT ALMOST ACCOUNTS FOR 7% OF CANADA’S GDP. DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR THE INDUSTRY OR HAS IT PEAKED IN RECENT YEARS?
SM: Yes. I believe this industry has a lot of room for growth. At the end of the day, people cannot eat their Pokémon. The increasing population of the world along with climate change and water shortage put greater emphasis on the importance of this industry.
DO YOU THINK THERE ARE ENOUGH OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESSES IN THE CLEANTECH SPACE OF AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD TO SEEK OUT INVESTMENT AND PARTNERSHIPS?
SM: Yes, we see a very good shift in the market especially in the area of digital farming and precision agriculture but we need more interest and investment in this sector.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE AT THE GREATER VANCOUVER CLEAN TECHNOLOGY EXPO & CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?
SM: I hope the expo can reach out to big farming corporations and greenhouse owners and invite them to join the expo. Farmers traditionally go to Ag Shows and they might miss out on the interesting developments that are happening in the clean tech sector. On the other hand, the best investor in any company is a loyal customer and farmers are a loyal bunch. If the show can attract major greenhouses and farmers to the show it can create a great opportunity for the exhibiting companies to discover new customers and potential early-adopters.
Saber and his company, EIS Crop Sense, will be present at the Clean Technology Expo & Championship. To come and see their products up close and what they’re doing to have an impact on clean tech within the agri-food industry, register for the expo & championship today (P.S. It’s free).
Come by the City of Surrey City Hall – one of BC’s clean energy hubs – on Wednesday September 28th, 2016 to take part of the Greater Vancouver Clean Technology Expo & Championship. The event will be open from 10AM – 4PM and registration is free for general attendees. With registration, you’ll receive an Expo package upon signing in at the event, as well as access to see the latest clean technologies that Greater Vancouver has to offer.