Vancouver startup aims to digitize agriculture sector, starting with cannabis
Published Saturday, April 20, 2019 12:35PM EDT Last Updated Saturday, April 20, 2019 10:13PM EDT
The agricultural sector may not be seen as a high-tech innovation hub, but a new generation of growers specializing in Canada’s new star crop are looking to overhaul the industry with digital record-keeping and analysis.
Like many traditional crops, cannabis requires careful monitoring of growing conditions like exposure and water intake. But, in order to be licensed cannabis producers, growers are required to follow stringent regulatory requirements that require careful data tracking.
Enter Elevated Signals—a Vancouver-area startup that has developed software to track cannabis crops at all levels, monitoring potency, yield, and growing conditions.
“We’re painting the picture of how each cannabis patch is grown from seed through to harvest,” Elevated Signals CEO Amar Singh told CTV News.
The company is testing its system by manually capturing every ounce of cannabis cultivation and production at B.C.’s Tantalus Labs. By inputting each plant’s development into the digital platform, the software is able to make suggestions to adjust variables for better results.
"Digital transformation has barely hit traditional agriculture,” said Singh. “With cannabis being a new industry, having been grown in an underground setting for many, many years, tech companies never really entered this space. We’re one of the first.”
But this type of technology doesn’t just ensure quality cannabis. It helps ensure small and medium sized growers like Tantalus remain viable.
“There are some large companies that have benefitted substantial funding from public markets, but there are very few cannabis firms that are actually profitable today,” said Dan Sutton, CEO of Tantalus Labs.
“This is a nascent business and we need to approach it with as tight of a degree of control and as tight of a degree of understanding as we can so that we can really make sure that there is a long sustainable business here.”
Although Elevated Signals focuses on cannabis specifically, its creators say this type of technology would greatly impact that agricultural industry at large.
“Using the cannabis industry as a vehicle because it has such interest and capital behind it, that’s going to drive forward agricultural technology in other industries,” said Singh.