Sebastian and Florian's Journey from Idea to Innovation with ekipa
Deutschland 4.0 is currently running for the fourth time. The impressive story of AgraCheck shows what can happen when an established company in the innovation program meets a young start-up team. As participants in the first edition three years ago, they developed a start-up idea for digitalization in agriculture - the "Check24 for farmers", as it is now called by the people in charge at the Challenge partner RWZ. Read the article to find out what happened after the Challenge for both sides and where AgraCheck and RWZ stand today.
The ekipa innovation platform is not only used to launch innovation programmes - it is also a place where innovators can get together, exchange ideas and form teams - if they have similar ideas and projects in mind. This was also the case for Sebastian and Florian. The Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main AG (RWZ) Challenge entitled "A Farmer's Journey of Agriculture 4.0" sparked their interest. The two students wanted to pursue the core question of the RWZ Challenge within the digitalisation initiative of Deutschland 4.0: "How do we manage to give farms a hand and enable them to take the path to digital agriculture?" RWZ had correctly recognised that the digitalisation of agricultural businesses and their value chains still had plenty of potential for greater economic efficiency, environmental protection and transparency. But what had prevented widespread implementation so far? Florian and Sebastian had already become aware of the economic and ecological advantages of digital technologies in the agricultural sector during their studies, but also of the great scepticism of farmers and the obstacles to the implementation of digital technologies in farms. The two wanted to get to the bottom of these circumstances, reasons for obstacles and, at the same time, potential areas of innovation.
Fueling Innovation: Accelerated Growth Through Support from RWZ
The two founders Sebastian and Florian remember that the coaching of the Lufthansa Group was very helpful during the Deutschland 4.0 elaboration phase, as was the continuous and positive feedback from RWZ. But it was not only the content-related strategic support, but also the financial support from RWZ that brought them further - as did the prize money from Deutschland 4.0. The financial support helped the team to advance and further expand their solution. When the third man and later co-founder Matthias Hamborg finally joined the team as a web developer, the process of finding a solution accelerated enormously.
AgraCheck received further support from various funding programs and scholarships, such as the "EXIST Gründerstipendium" at Munich University of Applied Sciences as well as the "Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE)" and the "Start-up Zentrum Seed House". They made their way to trade fairs, fostered contacts and thus their idea of developing a comparison platform and offering it on the market became more solid and concrete. A platform where farmers can find out about the use of digital technologies in agriculture easily, quickly and without in-depth prior knowledge. Here they should find the right technologies and products and at the same time expand their understanding of them. In addition, producers and trade should benefit from the platform by partially automating acquisition and advisory work and enabling precise conclusions to be drawn about farmers' interests through the data generated.
The two received unproblematic support at every stage from RWZ and its specialists on a wide range of topics: "They know exactly where the shoe pinches in agriculture." And when the question came up from RWZ as to whether Florian and Sebastian would like to start up, the two didn't have to think twice.
Seeds of Success: AgraCheck and RWZ's Collaborative Triumph
"It is exciting to see how start-up business cooperations develop; how many opportunities open up and then it is a matter of making the right decisions," Tobias from RWZ's innovation team elaborates. AgraCheck and RWZ is a prime example of a successful cooperation in which Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale, the startup AgraCheck, agriculture and practising farmers as well as Germany as a technology country - also and especially in agriculture - benefit. A multiple win-win situation.
For Florian and Sebastian, the journey continues. From the "AgriTech Days" in Paris, the "German Business Angel Day" or the "Bits & Bäume conference for digitalisation and sustainability" in Berlin - everywhere they present their digital innovation and comparison platform, they are celebrated! And so their platform grows and thrives - also thanks to the Open Innovation Incubator ekipa and the Innovation Program Germany 4.0. Simply Smart Farming at its Best! Even Denmark knows that now.
Anyone who wants to learn more about AgraCheck and its digital comparison platform for agriculture can visit its website here: https://agracheck.de/