Takeaways from the 2023 Ag Startup Engine Unconference

Ag Startup Engine, a fund for agtech startups, hosted its 2023 Unconference event in Des Moines touching on the themes of data, artificial intelligence and sustainable agriculture.

Speakers from this year’s event shared their thoughts on agricultural innovation currently and in the future.

Bill Northey, CEO of Agribusiness Association of Iowa and former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
“When you think of innovation, agriculture isn’t at the center of it or even in the top five. But we need to find different, innovative ways to help farmers. Ag innovates in Iowa and that’s a great thing!”

Rob Trice, founder, Better Food Ventures and the Mixing Bowl
“We need to see an intersection between data, AI and sustainable agriculture.”

“What I’ve seen from my years in technology is there has to be a disruption in the mundane market. More disruption. More change. Those are the new normal. For agriculture, climate change is likely going to be that big disruptor in the next decade.”

“62% of farmers are not using any software, which makes one of our biggest challenges the farmer and a three-ring binder. The solution is to break down silos and foster greater pre-competitive collaboration to solve problems and scale our solutions quicker.”

“We don’t quite have the right digital solutions right now to get the right food to the right people at the right time.”

Clayton Mooney, co-founder and CEO, Clayton Farms
“Focusing on data-driven decisions to help us learn more about our customers and drive sales.”

Brad McDonald, chief operating officer, Continuum Ag
“I am a farmer first and farmers are scared to change. They have done it that way for generations.”

“Low Carbon Intensity (CI) will likely be the next label you see in the supermarket space.”

BJ Brugman, co-founder and CEO, Distynct
“The foundation of internet connectivity on rural farms is missing creating a huge challenge for creating digital solutions.”

“Try. Try. Try. Try again to solve the solution.”

“Design for the future. Deliver incrementally.”

“I believe food discovery is a new category in this space. It’s a combination of animal health, sustainability and risk management.”  

Delaney Howell-Groth, co-founder and CEO, Ag Culture Marketing
“AI can be a very helpful tool, but it will not replace your job. It will likely always need to have a human perspective placed on it, especially in agriculture.”