An international programme seeking start-ups with the potential to accelerate the agricultural industry’s transition to a net zero sector, was launched at an event in Israel last week.

Against the backdrop of the climate crisis, SVG Ventures/THRIVE and ICL Planet held a joint event in Tel Aviv on June 15, to launch the ‘Global Impact Challenge’, a programme which aims to find start-ups working to create a more sustainable future in agriculture.

More than 150 people attended the event to network and discuss sustainable solutions to challenges facing the agrifood sector.

Source: THRIVE/SVG Ventures

The challenge is also aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDG’s) which outline ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and the promotion of sustainable agriculture as a priority.

Speaking about the challenge, John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures/THRIVE, said: “We believe entrepreneurs hold the key to a sustainable future.

“Climate action is a task for all of us and disruptive innovation is key to accelerating global efforts towards a net-zero future for agriculture.”

To encourage achievement of the SDG’s, the challenge is centred on three core themes: Soil health and biodiversity; increasing food security; and reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Within these, applicants are encouraged to focus on a number of subcategories:

Soil health and biodiversity

  • Regenerative agriculture;
  • Ag biotechnology;
  • Alternative fertilisers;
  • Alternative pesticides and herbicides;
  • Crop nutrition and novel inputs;
  • Biostimulants;
  • Water management.

Increasing food security

  • Alternative proteins;
  • Food loss prevention;
  • Circular economy;
  • Indoor farming;
  • Supply chain solutions;
  • Packaging;
  • Functional Ingredients.

Reducing and offsetting GHG emissions

  • Carbon sequestration;
  • Carbon measurement;
  • Carbon markets;
  • Reducing animal emissions and animal cruelty;
  • Robotics and automation;
  • On-farm emissions reduction.

THRIVE’s managing director of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and global programmes Danny O’Brien explained why these themes were chosen. He outlined that as the world’s population continues to grow, so do challenges around feeding it sustainably, and solutions to these are needed urgently.

“The world’s food system is facing severe challenges in the near term due to the war in Ukraine and the associated food-security concerns, as well as the long-term impact of climate change.

“We believe innovation and technology are the answers and we’re already overwhelmed by the response since our launch last week.”

Winning start-up

A number of finalists will be selected from each theme in October 2022, each of whom will pitch their company at THRIVE’s sustainability summit, where the overall winner of the challenge will be announced.

As well as investment from SVG Ventures, two founders from the winning company will get to take part in a startup bootcamp in Silicon Valley worth $15,000.

The winner will also automatically become a finalist in the Samsung Extreme Tech Challenge, the world’s largest startup competition which focuses on promoting technologies that can create positive change.

Applications to the Global Impact Challenge are open until September 15.