In Toulouse, agritech faces a slow commercial start
Toulouse and its region new bastions of agricultural technology? One of the first visits of the new Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot was to Toulouse in the summer of 2022 to present the first promotion of the Agri 20 program, in other words the 20 most promising French start-ups in agriculture. And five are in the Toulouse region: Agreenculture, Micropep, Naïo Technologies, Asclepios Tech and Green Spot Technologies. In addition to the sector of activity, they all have another thing in common: a slow commercial start.
Founded in 2011, Naïo Technologies, a designer of autonomous agricultural robots, started real commercial activity in 2017. As for Agreeculture, created in 2016 and despite a turnover of just over a million euros in 2021, the company that put the solution turned to the manufacturer Pellenc to make agricultural tools autonomous. Micropep (process for non-GMO products) and Green Spot Technologies (recycling of food waste) currently do not generate any turnover and ensure their development thanks to subsidies and investors. Finally, Asclepios Tech is currently celebrating its first sales, which does not allow for self-financing.
“For classic digital startups, development takes 3-5 years and commercial flight takes place, for agrotechnics and especially agricultural robots, we are talking about seven to ten years to build commercial development and a lot of funding needs to get behind. .. So I welcome the recent fundraising that will allow Naïo Technologies to continue growing,” comments Sandrine Jullien-Rouquie, president of French Tech Toulouse.
Innovation is always in the meeting
Owns Naïo Technologies, the oldest agricultural technology in Toulouse “only” Currently, 300 robots are in service. ” Our goal is to democratize agricultural robotics in France and abroad. With fundraising, we will invest in communications and sales to develop our distributor network. We currently have about thirty distributors in Europe and North America. The goal is to sell 1,000 robots by 2025 », announces the general manager of the company Gaëtan Séverac.
Raising awareness and democratizing new technologies is the same fight led by Abelio, another Toulouse agronomist who has developed a decision support platform in several verticals (water management, herbicides, etc.)”.Today, we work with more than 10,000 farmers on nearly 100,000 hectares in France and Belgium. In particular, we enable farmers to increase their productivity by 5% by reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers. Also, we work on 10,000 hectares of cereals and thanks to our platform we have managed to reduce the use of herbicides in 84% of cases. », explains Grégoire Dupre, CEO of Abelio.
The manager is also raising funds in the amount of one million euros to quietly continue commercial development. It also hopes to reach one million euros in turnover by the end of 2023. Abelio plans to specifically target players involved in viticulture and horticulture. If Naïo Technologies is present in the first market, it always intends to capture the second with a new series of robots, probably to be introduced in the near future, with the same logic of reducing the use of chemical products and automating repetitive tasks.
Farmers need to be appeased
Therefore, their desire to innovate is not hindered by sluggish commercial startups, quite the contrary. For Grégoire Dupre, as for Gaëtan Séverac, the problem of the commercial equation of their agrotechnics does not come so much from the price of their solution.
“In the life of a farmer, assuming a crop year, he has the right to make an average of 40 trials and errors. This is different from the software business where you can do 40 trials and errors in the same day. The farmer is quite careful with risk management because he constantly manages uncertainty (weather, sales price, production price through his fertilizers, etc.), analyzes the general manager of the autonomous designer of agricultural robots.
There are experienced farmers who see all the benefits of mastering our tools, and young farmers who are more into new technologies, who are at the beginning of their careers and want to further improve their agricultural skills. transition to agricultural optimization. But after accepting our products, they don’t look back. As Gaeta said, farmers who face various risks need to be reassured and convinced. They only believe what they see. Sometimes it takes them 2 or 3 seasons or even 4 seasons before they are tempted to tell others about it. »Adds the entrepreneur behind Abelio.
Moreover, both of the agricultural world’s ” very loving » new technologies despite little or no room for error. But Abelio relies on its users, its best ambassadors, like Naïo Technologies. “Accelerate the adoption of new technologies in the world of agriculture. »
According to Sandrine Jullien-Rouquie today, “ agricultural startups make up 19% of French Tech Toulouse members and this is changing positively, as there is a lot of talk about food sovereignty with special funding mechanisms. “.