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SmartVineyard was voted the third best start up in Europe
The Hungarian grape protection technology company which ambitions to end overuse of pesticides in agriculture finished as second runner up in one of Europe’s most prestigious start-up competitions and is now set to compete in the Intel Global Challenge finals in the United States.
It is well known that pesticides can cause a wide range of social and environmental problems, such as decreased long term soil fertility and pollution. Pesticide use is also spiraling in a vicious circle: increased pesticide resistance of harmful agents causes farmers to use ever-stronger chemicals, which kills off beneficial species that have been keeping pests under control. In the United States alone, losses due to pesticide overuse were estimated at $10bn in 2004.
“The problem is that many agricultural producers are still using 19th century methods to find out when to use 21th century chemical agents”- argues Csaba Arendas, CEO of SmartVineyard. “They frequently base their decision of when to spray on intuitions and heuristics and are, understandably, overly cautious, leading to a significant overuse of pesticides.” Using precision sensors installed in vineyards, SmartVineyard’s unique technology allows for the precise measurement of the climate and microclimate parameters which play an important role in the development and spreading of grape diseases. The GSM card in the device uploads the measured data onto the server, where algorithms and mathematical models are applied to determine the probability of infection in a given territory. Viticulturists are then able to monitor these developments on the internet on their own devices. This technology has proven popular with esteemed Hungarian wine producers.
The idea behind SmartVineyard was pitched at this year’s finals of the Intel Business Challenge in Vilnius, Lithuania. Here 24 start-ups (selected from a pool of over 4000 applicants) delivered detailed pitches on their projects, commenting both on their execution and results to a jury of investment professionals. The stakes were high: the best five projects automatically participate in Intel Global Challenge’s international finals in Silicon Valley. The third place that SmartVineyard was awarded could not have come at a better time for SmartVineyard as the start-up is currently looking for investors and the global finals will provide them with a prime opportunity to make the right business connections.