Mark Young

A Night of Networking and How it Fits into the Future of Agriculture

Prior to joining The Climate Corporation and now the Crop Science Division at Bayer, I came from a background in entrepreneurship and technology. Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit those roots and speak with entrepreneurs and business-minded people at a startup-focused networking event in St. Louis, Missouri.

More than 700 tech-minded professionals attended the Venture Café-hosted event, creating an excellent environment to meet and network with talented individuals. But in my opinion, that’s the second most valuable outcome of Bayer’s participation.

Bayer has been delivering science for a better life for more than 150 years. Any organization with that type of longevity and success tends to focus on the things it does extremely well. For Bayer, agriculture is one of them. But agriculture is undergoing a digital transformation. Farmers today are using data science to make better informed decisions on precisely where, how and when to apply pesticides and fertilizer, while advanced equipment and sensor technologies are helping farmers execute those decisions with amazing precision. In addition to providing economic benefits to farmers and environmental benefits for everyone, these advancements are just a couple examples of how agriculture is evolving.

mark young
mark young
Mark Young
CTO & Head of Product,
The Climate Corporation

It stands to reason that if the industry and our customers are evolving, we need to evolve with them. Today’s Bayer has the opportunity to serve agriculture as both industry leader and collaborator. Participating in events alongside startups and finding opportunities to work alongside the innovative, agile companies that frequent them will bring innovation to farms more quickly.

I’m not just referring to large-acre farms in North and South America. Global smartphone adoption means we’re now able to deliver digital insights to smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa and other regions, providing connections to agronomic and crop marketing resources that weren’t previously accessible. I believe smallholders will benefit even more from digital farming tools than their larger acre counterparts.

Attendees at Bayer's recent Venture Café event in St. Louis take part in a virtual reality farm experience focused on honey bee health. More than 700 entrepreneurs and tech-minded professionals attended the event.

Regardless of farm size or type, technology will help a shrinking number of farmers feed a growing number of people sustainably in an ever-changing climate. To facilitate a common vision for agtech that supports social, economic and environmental sustainability, Bayer must continue to incubate its own R&D pipeline AND find ways to prop up and support innovation from others. The Climate Corporation’s platform approach is just one example of how Bayer is partnering within the industry.

Our customers often compare farming to a team sport - dealers, agronomists, equipment operators, land owners and others work together to deliver a successful harvest, farm again the following year, and take care of the land so they can pass it onto the next generation. In the same way, technologists in agriculture should collaborate to provide the innovations that help farmers grow the food we eat. Whether we’re talking about farming or technology, the teams that work together are more likely to celebrate success after harvest.

If you’re interested in agtech, or developing technology for farmers, contact me on Twitter at @markyoung_ag. I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can work together to bring tailored, integrated (and digital!) solutions to the world’s farmers.

Mark Young is CTO and Head of Product for The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer. He moved to St. Louis last summer after more than 20 years in Silicon Valley and has experience ranging from staff engineer at Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle in 2010), to founding and running a startup with a global engineering team (venture-backed, multiple rounds), to joining Zynga pre-IPO as it transitioned to a public company.

Mark transitioned to digital agriculture in 2015 after joining the Climate team. Growing up on a farm in the eastern U.S. and having more than two decades of experience as an entrepreneur and leader in mobile technology gives him a unique perspective on agriculture's growing digital sector.

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