In the lead up to COP26 this year, we’ll be showcasing each of the Tech For Our Planet startups, selected to showcase their technologies in the green zone in Glasgow. This week we spoke to Matthew Guinness, VP Sustainability at Hummingbird Technologies to hear more about their AgriTech solution.
- What is your startup's mission and why did you embark on this venture?
Hummingbird Technologies was founded in 2016 with a mission to use artificial intelligence to improve the sustainability of global food production. Today, the Hummingbird team comprises around 50 people, led by experts in computer vision, machine learning and geospatial analytics. We specialise in providing monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of sustainable and regenerative farm management practices to facilitate the monetisation of more sustainable food production. Our vision is to create a system where farmers are rewarded for these practices so that environmental restoration can go hand-in-hand with a more prosperous and productive agriculture sector.
- What makes your startup stand out from the crowd?
We are building and applying technology to simulate the dynamics of cropland productivity, environmental outcomes and management impacts. A living model continuously updating. By using AI and Earth observation technologies we are able to stand out from our peers in embracing the latest scientific methodologies to deliver enhanced results to our users.
- How will your technology help to achieve NetZero targets?
By providing low-cost monitoring, reporting and verification of key metrics relating to land use and agriculture, we enable the systems that reward farmers for sustainable practices. These go beyond net zero to carbon drawdown; harnessing the power of soil to sequester carbon as one of the most powerful tools to combat climate change.
- What are your plans for the future?
We are applying our technology primarily in Europe, the UK and North America in 2021. We expect to roll this out into other geographies such as Australia and Brazil from 2023. Our goal is to provide MRV on hundreds of millions of hectares by 2025, and for our tools to have run our MRV tools on land equating to a gigaton of carbon sequestration by 2030.
- What do you think is most important about COP26 this year?
The importance of meaningful change has never been clearer and more urgent. The climate is approaching a tipping point and rapid, large-scale decarbonisation of the global economy is needed without delay in order to ensure that keeping global warming below 1.5℃ is still possible, or “keep 1.5 alive”. Not only is coordinated and bold action needed from world leaders, but the private sector has a huge role to play in terms of R&D and innovation. Every sector and industry must adapt to scale the low carbon technologies we have already, and develop the ones we need. As hosts, the UK has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its leadership in the areas of clean-tech, R&D and science, and to map out the path to net zero by 2050.
- Advice for CleanTech startup founders?
Clean-tech solutions will only ever scale effectively if there is a compelling business case for adoption. In agriculture for example, farmers will only switch to regenerative farming practices if they will be better off as a result. So it is vital that solutions are cost effective and - where appropriate - policy mechanisms are in place to incentivise adoption. Founders should keep this in mind and focus on building a product that is financially as well as environmentally sustainable for users.
The Tech For Our Planet - Startup Showcase will showcase the leading digital solutions that can help us reach Net Zero. Tickets to the showcase can be obtained via the official COP26 website on 31st October.