Farming Data Ltd, a startup co-founded by Churchill Alumna Dr Jacqui Poon (G12), has received an Innovate UK grant worth £320k.
The Agri-tech Catalyst Activity, under the Colombian Prosperity Fund Programme with its implementing partners, Innovate UK and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture-CIAT, is investing up to £3 million in seven new agriculture projects around the country. The expected impacts are: greater agriculture productivity; inclusive growth; poverty reduction; gender equality; women’s economic empowerment; as well as new commercial opportunities between both countries.
Farming Data aims to connect small farmers with buyers and to enable farming communities to sell more for more using mobile technology. Dr Poon, who did her PhD in Plant Sciences and was a Gates Scholar, met one of her co-founders, Dr Paul Bergen, during her time at Cambridge. A 2017 article sees them both discussing their new enterprise, saying,
Technology encourages smallholders to move beyond subsistence farming and to view themselves as entrepreneurs. Imagine a smallholder selling their meagre surplus for a higher price because of better information. Then, they receive an alert with better farming practices, leading to a higher surplus during the following harvest. Amplify this effect over millions of smallholders and, eventually, these farmers can consistently re-invest back into their farms, stimulating local economies and lifting people out of poverty.
In January 2018, Dr Poon was also one of the winners of the inaugural Churchill Enterprise ‘Pitch to Win’ competition, an event that aimed to encourage Churchillians to perfect their pitching skills.