An Illinois startup working on IoT for the farm got a big boost at one of the world’s biggest tech conferences this week.
Amber Agriculture, a startup out of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that creates connected devices that help farmers manage stored crops, was named ‘Best Startup’ by tech publication Engadget.
The startup distributes connected sensors inside farmers’ crop storage bins to monitor internal grain conditions (such as temperature and humidity). Farmers can monitor conditions and operate a smart fan in the bins from their smartphone. The goal is to reduce grain spoilage so farmers can prevent wasted crops and lost revenue.
“Plenty of startups promise solutions to problems that are either overblown or don’t really exist, but we can’t say the same about Amber Agriculture,” wrote Endgadget editor Chris Velazco. “With Amber’s array of sensors, farmers can more easily check the quality of their stored grain and get their wares to the companies that make our food at the right time.
“Beyond ensuring these farmers get the biggest return on their crop yields, the ability to monitor for the conditions that lead to spoilage could eventually help whole countries deal with food supply issues,” he added. “Long story short: Amber’s is a savvy approach to a pressing problem most people don’t even know about.”
The startup was cofounded by UIUC MBA student Lucas Frye and electrical engineering student Joey Varikooty. Amber Agriculture went through UIUC’s iVenture accelerator and won the 2016 Cozad New Venture Competition, where they were awarded $20,000, as well as $1,000 from Dow Agrosciences and received a $10,000 investment from Illinois Ventures.