The three-month accelerator program is the third class of Microsoft’s AI Factory, a support program for startups specializing in AI that is organized around five major economic and societal challenges—health, environment/energy, transportation, financial services and agrifood. AI Factory for Agrifood’s goal is to accelerate the digital transformation of each sector, and to support young companies to continue their development in AI and cloud computing.
“At Danone, we believe that artificial intelligence can contribute to the food revolution by improving our agricultural systems and our food’s value chains. That’s why we are very happy to launch this program with our partners at Microsoft,” said Cécile Cabanis, EVP, CFO, IS/IT, Danone Cycles & Procurement. “In a fundamental area such as food and agriculture, it is essential to encourage collaborative initiatives, knowledge sharing and the emergence of new, more inclusive and more sustainable solutions.”
Applicants must already have raised funds and developed and marketed a solution based on AI technology intended for professionals in the food industry. The six selected startups will be announced on March 5, 2020.
The program is an innovation laboratory that links startups, the research world and various players in each sector. The program is designed to encourage projects serving regenerative agriculture, sustainable food, waste minimization and optimization of supply chains. AI Factory for Agrifood startups will benefit from Danone’s “One Planet. One Health” vision that links human health and the health of the planet across its entire value chain. They also will benefit from access to real-use cases under demanding real-life conditions of quality and performance.
Microsoft will provide personalized support through its technological skills and the services of its Azure platform, as well as its sales network. Inria, the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology, together with France Digitale, Fabernovel, EIT Food and Seventure Partners also are teaming up alongside Microsoft and Danone to contribute during the different stages of the program including sourcing AI startups, selection process, coaching, and more—to leverage their respective expertise.
“Our ambition is to help develop digital intelligence for healthy food and sustainable agriculture,” said Agnès Van de Walle, director of the One Commercial Partner Entity at Microsoft France. “This partnership with Danone will provide the selected applicants with in-depth expertise and personalized support, thus accelerating innovation throughout the agrifood sector.”