Café.com agritechs initiative serves 27 startups during pandemic
Embrapa, through the Secretariat for Innovation and Business (SIN), served 27 startups from different segments of the agricultural sector in the months of May and June during the “Café.com agritechs” program, a management support initiative to assist companies during the Covid-19 pandemic. The program, started in late April with the webinar “Covid-19: impacts on agriculture and opportunities for reinvention”, is completely online and carried out through free mentoring sessions. The sessions connect entrepreneurs with management experts and researchers from Embrapa and partners. Participated in mentoring from companies with digital platforms to increase traceability or support the financial management of rural producers to other businesses focused on monitoring and biological control of pests, or even an application to strengthen the connection of small organic producers with input suppliers.
The initiative led by Embrapa also includes the participation of Cedro Capital, Bayer, FoodTech Hub, Plug and Play, 10B and AgTech Garage. Café.com agritechs has made it possible to combine management expertise already used to select startups for the innovation challenges organized by Embrapa, such as Bridges for Innovation, InovaPork and Ideas for Milk, to support entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector at this time of retraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After attending the 27 enrolled startups, SIN and the program partners are conducting an evaluation of the initiative to define how the program can continue after the pandemic period.
Mentors spend a few hours in the weekly online session to listen to the entrepreneurs' anxieties, anxieties and difficulties and suggest possible ways. "Our idea is to join the logic that startups need to continue evolving in this pandemic period so that we can grow together ahead, because together we are stronger", evaluates Cleidson Dias, supervisor of environments, networks and innovation initiatives at Embrapa .
For researcher Daniel Trento, the program helps entrepreneurs to face the economic downturn and reduces risks for Embrapa and partners. “A good part of our technologies reach the market through startups. Contributing to these partner companies to survive in this difficult time is an important role, as it will be through these partnerships that our technological assets will be able to consolidate themselves in innovations adopted by the productive sector in the future ”, he comments.
Entrepreneur Gabriela Vieira Silva, from Agribela, a startup that developed biological control technology through biodegradable capsules that release natural enemies from pests, points out that the interaction with Embrapa and partners expands the vision of business opportunities and possible course adjustments . “In a few minutes, I got different points of view about our products and services that enabled maturity and also served as an incentive to continue on the path of excellence”, emphasizes Gabriela.
Networking unites partners and UDs
In addition to the employees of the Secretariat for Innovation and Business, the program has mentors from Embrapa Agroindustry of Food (Rio de Janeiro - RJ), Embrapa Agroindustry Tropical (Fortaleza - CE), Embrapa Alimentos and Territories (Maceió - AL) and Embrapa Caprinos and Sheep (Sobral - CE). In addition to researchers with a background in agrarian sciences, experts in communication, marketing and supply chain management participated in the mentoring sessions.
Bayer's alliance manager, Renato Luzzardi, points out that interacting with startups at different stages of development and needs is an interesting experience to understand the changes underway and be able to give more accurate answers in the future. "I believe that many of the startups were also able to collect important recommendations to adjust their business to these new times and many new connections were made", comments Luzzardi.
For the analyst Everardo Mendes, from Embrapa Caprinos e Ovinos, the program is a mutual learning experience for mentors and entrepreneurs, in addition to making it possible to learn more about business models and technologies in line with market needs. “Startups arrive wanting to hear from Embrapa, with the great respect and reputation that we enjoy in society. The presence of company colleagues as mentors was also a great idea. Without fear of making mistakes, it's been one of my best experiences at Embrapa ”, stresses Everardo.