This June, BASF will be joining us at the World Agri-Tech South America Summit. We were pleased to catch up with Eduardo Menezes, Digital Product Manager, Latin America at BASF to learn more about the current South American agtech landscape and AgroStart accelerator program’s latest developments.

There’s a real buzz around South American agtech innovation right now. How would you describe the current landscape?

South America has almost a third of the arable land and freshwater available in the corporate world quickly, being the region with the highest net income from agricultural exports. Brazilian farmers are ahead of their American and European peers in their preference for digital channels for agricultural purchases. In Brazil, the preference for these channels went from 36% to 46% of producers in the last 12 months, an increase of 10%, while in the United States and Europe, over the same period, the growth of this index was 7%.

These factors are associated with a favorable environment for the emergence and consolidation of new technologies for start-ups with a focus on the field. In addition, the generation of a strong innovation environment, the diversity of needs of rural producers, and the strong incentive programs for the development of start-ups have provided an ideal scenario for agtech.

What makes BASF AgroStart different from other accelerator programs?

AgroStart becomes a unique and interesting initiative as it is not only an accelerator program but also a complete platform to create high-impact solutions for the entire value chain, contributing to accelerating sustainability in agriculture with the adoption of digital tools. AgroStart is based on the pillars of farmer 4.0: IoT, artificial intelligence, and big data and seeks through the innovation and entrepreneurship platform, interactions with start-ups focused on solving the main problems of the farmer. We work with entrepreneurs who bring ideas that solve the main difficulties faced in agribusiness, through co-creation.

In addition, we offer companies that are part of an innovation ecosystem, designed to bring together giants from other sectors, such as BOSCH, Banco do Brasil, and Samsung, who want to strengthen their relationships with agribusiness. There is also the chance to count on the investments of BASF Venture Capital in food technology and agtech solutions. In addition to the actions that make us unique, there is a space for employees to exercise intrapreneurship.

How does AgroStart’s program help start-ups get their products beyond the pilot stage and into the market? How do you support the start-ups after the accelerator program?

The idea that guides us is that of co-creation. Through AgroStart, we seek not only to accelerate start-ups, but to co-create new business models with a focus on solving agribusiness problems. In this way, we work to facilitate Go To Market and access to new partnerships and the market.

In addition, there are other benefits to being part of AgroStart, including:

  • Market access in different regions of Brazil and Latin America;
  • Coaching and mentoring with entrepreneurs and mentors recognized in agribusiness and in the development of startups;
  • Consulting and tools for innovation and growth in marketing, sales, planning, business, management, operation, usability, and investment;
  • Exclusive access to national and international investors. The entrepreneur will have BASF’s experience, structure, and customer base;
  • At the end of the program, BASF will evaluate investment opportunities through its own fund, BASF Venture Capital. You can also establish partnerships to seek funding, purchase, or distribute your products and services.
  • Ecosystem AgroStart: designed to bring together giants from other sectors that want to strengthen their relationships with agribusiness. Companies like BOSCH, Banco do Brasil and Samsung are our partners in this ecosystem today.

What advice would you give to a South American start-up looking for new partnerships / collaborations / investments?

It is important to be in contact with the main companies in the sector, participating in strategic and regional events for the area. My biggest advice is that start-ups sign up for acceleration platforms and take advantage of all the opportunities and interactions offered. Above all, it is necessary to be clear that they are solving a real agribusiness problem. This is because about 42% of start-ups failures are due to developing solutions that do not meet a market need, according to CBinsights. Therefore, keeping in mind that you must address a real issue is essential, and this is made possible by involving customers in business decisions.

AgroStart began in 2016 – what have been its biggest success stories, and learning points?

One of the main advances for AgroStart was strengthening the teams in the countries, expanding the interaction with the teams, and expanding the structures. We were able to apply the idea of ​​Open Innovation, seeking the external innovative potential and, at the same time, offering our expertise in order to optimize the results of the development and creation of the company.

In this trajectory we learn each year how to promote co-creation and open innovation in the best way, offering the most assertive partnerships and the necessary investments. For this reason, we have evolved and created, in addition to the acceleration program, an intrapreneurship front, we have added contributions from BASF Venture Capital and brought in large companies to become partners in the ecosystem. Some of our greatest success stories are recorded in the development of the approximately 500 startups that have already interacted with us, some of which we can mention will be better known at the World Agri-tech Summit: Arpac Drones, today the largest fleet of professional agricultural drones in the world. Brazil; DigiFarmz, a digital platform that helps producers, technicians, and agronomists to make the best decisions for the management of soybean diseases; Bart Digital, a pioneer in the electronic issuance of agricultural guarantees; and Grão Direto, a platform that reinvented the way of trading grains.

What do you hope can be achieved in gathering the South American (and global) ag and investment community at the upcoming World Agri-Tech South America Summit?

I believe that the union of different bits of knowledge and experiences will be fertile ground for the co-creation of innovative ideas to benefit the entire agribusiness value chain in South America. The World Agri-Tech Summit comes to provide opportunities for deepening networking, consolidating contacts, and developing new strategic partnerships. Undoubtedly, the AgroStart platform will be strengthened after interacting with players committed to the same goals as ours.


Eduardo will be co-presenting BASF AgroStart’s start-up cohort with Almir Araujo on June 30 during the Start-Up Arena. Connect with the BASF team at the virtual exhibition and discover latest projects and partnerships. Register now to secure your access.