EIT Digital announces the first commercial application of its SIOTAD innovation activity, designed to support sustainable and efficient agriculture.
The business champion of the initiative, French startup Bilberry, signed a deal with Agrifac, a widely-known internationally operating manufacturer of crop protection sprayers and sugar beet harvesting technology.
Starting by the end of this year, the company will incorporate Bilberry's weed detection solution in the sprayers sold on the Australian market, allowing customers to determine in real time where it's necessary to spray or not. The feature will be marketed as an option, on top of the standard offering.
"This will allow farmers to save time and spray more effectively, reducing the amount of herbicides needed. Fighting weeds is a priority for Australian farmers, as this unwanted plants consume the resources of an already dry soil," the startup's CEO Guillaume Jourdain says.
By the end of next year, more than 10,000 hectares of Australian land are forecast to be scanned with Bilberry's technology.
The deal marks a change of strategy for the startup, which initially thought of selling directly to farmers. "We quickly understood that was not the optimal solution; Agrifac's sales network will allow us to reach many more customers in a shorter time," Jourdain explains. Contact with Agrifac was established when the two firms both participated in the SIMA tradeshow in Paris, one of the biggest international events for the agricultural sector.
The weed detection technology was developed also thanks to the collaboration with SIOTAD's activity leader Nokia. The Nokia Innovation Platform was instrumental in providing a live development and trial environment that enabled Bilberry to access the massive computational power needed to train its algorithms.
Further proof, if needed, that the melting of pot of large technology companies, young and dynamic startups, and research hubs that characterizes EIT Digital's innovation activities is the right receipt to bring to the market disruptive innovations for the benefit of society.