This paper departs from the hypothesis that in the era of agriculture 4.0, start-ups specialised in digital agricultural technology (AT) have the potential not only to rapidly grow, but also to have a beneficial impact outside the core countries of agricultural innovation. To validate this assumption, we compiled data about a sample of Romanian and Hungarian AT start-ups entering the market with self-developed digital solutions. Based on extensive desk research, we identified the main distinctive features of the surveyed startups, compared to their peers in advanced economies, and answered the related key research question: how meaningful is the impact of these start-ups on the much-needed upgrading of agricultural production in these countries? Our analysis reveals that although local AT startups in these countries do develop innovative solutions in the field of precision farming, farm management software, applications, and e-marketplaces, their number is below a threshold where they could have an impact on the upgrading of local agriculture. More importantly, the reduced size of the local market for technology and other hard-to-overcome barriers make it barely possible for them to grow as rapidly as some AT start-ups do in advanced economies.
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