The future of agriculture and technology are merging in Michigan thanks to partnerships between Silicon Valley’s FarmWise and Michigan-based Roush.
In 2016, FarmWise was founded with the mission of providing farmers with a cost-effective alternative to pesticides for the health of the farmer, consumer and the environment. Shortly after, members of the company began volunteering on small, rural vegetable farms along the East Coast. This allowed them to maintain open lines of communication with their key audience by interviewing dozens of farmers to discover the difficulties they face in the 21st Century economy. Consistently, farmers cited the evolution of technology as an important consideration, recognizing that it creates an opportunity for them to innovate the way they produce and distribute their products while maximizing their profits and economic impact.
These conversations led FarmWise to locate in the Bay Area, joining other Silicon Valley companies in pursuing future high-tech solutions. However, when it came time to put their ideas into practice—and begin developing the company’s revolutionary autonomous farm robots—FarmWise looked outside of the Valley for potential partnerships to make it all happen.
Enter PlanetM, Michigan’s mobility initiative representing the collective mobility efforts throughout the state. As part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), PlanetM facilitates matchmaking opportunities and network connections within Michigan’s mobility ecosystem. That is why it was the perfect conduit for helping connect FarmWise to Michigan-based full-service product development supplier Roush to develop and test its autonomous vegetable weeders in Michigan. By working together to bring autonomous farming robots to life, FarmWise and Roush are helping replace toxic herbicides and in turn save farmers on labor costs and increase yield to improve overall farming efficiency.
“Michigan is well-known throughout the world for its manufacturing and automotive industries, the advanced technology expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices,” said Thomas Palomares, co-founder and CTO of FarmWise. “These are many of the key ingredients we need to manufacture and test our machines. We were connected to Roush through support from PlanetM, and as a technology startup, joining forces with a large and well-respected legacy automaker is critical to support the scale of our manufacturing plan.”
The collaboration between FarmWise and Roush is yet another nod to Michigan’s deep history and expertise in manufacturing, in addition to the state’s ideal ecosystem for emerging technology companies to successfully develop, test and deploy their products. Thanks toPlanetM, this partnership showcases the breadth of opportunities Michigan has to offer for startups looking to make their concepts a reality.
Today, FarmWise employs 20 farming and artificial intelligence experts from Stanford University, Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as it continues developing its autonomous farming robots with Roush. Thanks to the connections facilitated by PlanetM, FarmWise is helping to merge the future of agriculture, mobility, technology and business from the place where big ideas are born: Michigan.
To learn more about the people and places driving the future of mobility in Michigan, go to planetm.com. To learn more information about the programs and services offered through the MEDC, go to michiganbusiness.org.