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  • Team ThinkAg

'Catalyst'-'s Incubation Programme

Updated: Jan 2

- Aims to unleash the potential of AgTech startups to come up with breakthrough technologies and solutions

About is a leading open agri-tech platform for sustainable agriculture globally, which brings together what every farmer needs — technology, solutions and finance. Its ecosystem connects across the food system, expanding choice for customers, and making access transparent, affordable and fast for everyone. This way, reduces uncertainty and helps farmers secure sustainable outcomes. Established in 2020, brings together the best agriculture solutions, including remote sensing, farm mechanisation, online marketplace and market linkage. The app, launched in April 2020, has onboarded over 2.58 million farmers. The nurture.retail solution, a B2B e-commerce marketplace for agri-inputs, has also scaled significantly in over 14 States and has more than 90,000 registered agri-input retailers across India. To carry out its ground-level operations, has built India's first and biggest rural gig economy model, deploying a 10,000-strong field workforce in over ten States.

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About UPL

UPL is India's largest crop protection company and the fifth largest in the world. UPL is working with food systems, farms and farmers to meet growing threats from climate change and economic stress by reimagining sustainability. We are strengthening every link of the food chain to empower environmentally positive agriculture. From sowing to harvesting and from farm to fork, our companies, products and solutions are hand-in-hand with the food value chain to build a sustainable food future for all. It exemplifies our OpenAg® Network to use partnerships and collaboration that make farming sustainable at every level – for farmers, consumers and the planet.

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Why are we starting an incubation programme?

The Problem

Agriculture is dying a slow death along with our planet.

●Agriculture is responsible for 70 per cent of freshwater withdrawals across the globe (Source: McKinsey)

Forty per cent of the earth's land mass (non-ice) is under agriculture (Source: FAO)

●Agriculture accounts for 20 per cent of the world's GHG emissions (Source: McKinsey)

●Agriculture, including animal husbandry, contributes to 45 per cent of CH4 and 80 per cent of N2O emissions (Source: McKinsey)

●Agriculture is growing faster, with the population reaching around 10 billion and per capita food consumption growing at 8-12 per cent (Source: McKinsey)

One-third of the world's soil is moderately or highly degraded.

●Current agriculture practices cause pollution, destroy wildlife and cost economies $3 trillion yearly (Source: FAO)

●Due to natural disasters, developing economies recorded over $108 billion in damaged or lost crop and livestock production.

Smallholder farmers own 470 million farms out of 570 million farms worldwide. These farmers either need more capital, lack the skills to use technology or are unaware of the solutions available to help them farm better and drive profitability.

- More than 70 per cent of farmers worldwide lack access to proper capital.

- Two-thirds of farmers struggle to use technology

- More than 50 per cent of the farmers need to be made aware of the existing solutions.

The Impact

About 1,000 startups are impacting less than 50 million farmers in India to solve these challenges and problems. We want to bridge the gap for the smallholder farmers and offer them access to technology. The best way to go about it is to build a global ecosystem that works to educate, train and scale the efforts to deliver the benefits of digitalisation, artificial intelligence, farm mechanisation and machine learning to ensure better outcomes for farmers, farming communities and the entire ecosystem.

Our Goal:

Our incubator programme will foster collaborations and offer startups access to capital, infrastructure, intelligence, resources and technology to help them scale faster and drive impact at the grassroots level.


For us

It will help us as a business to bolster our reach. Partnering with our incubated startups will allow us to explore newer technologies and access more unique markets and geographies.

For the incubated startups

Along with the access to capital, infrastructure, intelligence, resources and technology, incubate with provides them with a unique opportunity to test their product/solution offerings at scale and leverage nurture. farm's presence, brand, ecosystem, and UPL's ecosystem to build their brand faster, better and more profitably.

About our Incubator Programme is setting up an incubation centre for agri-tech startups. We are well positioned as one of the leaders in the industry with experience and expertise across the farm lifecycle.

The idea is to nurture promising startups to provide them with the required expertise/guidance, market access, and financial and infrastructure support to scale their offerings while driving their product/ service-market fit to accelerate them into a successful and financially viable business that can run on its own.


We will offer a broad spectrum of support to our incubatees that can be tailored based on individual organisation needs:

Industry expertise: Team of in-house experts and seasoned practitioners across the farm lifecycle covering areas such as agronomy, precision agriculture, sustainability, crop management, farm services, commodity trading, retail supply chain, data science and technology.

Market access: With over 2.58 million farmers and more than 90,000 retailers onboarded on our platforms, presence in 14 States and two countries, we have unparalleled access to the agricultural ecosystem that helps startups quickly tap into newer markets for testing new products and services

Financial support: Access to financial and strategic investment sources, access to a network of experienced startup leaders for guidance on financial structuring and operating models, improved leverage with suppliers/customers to lower working capital requirements/sourcing/ customer acquisition costs

Infrastructure support: Access to our organisation's infrastructure and resources - office facilities, warehouses, equipment and workshops; management support for shared services such as HR, legal, finance, compliance

Growth Mindset: Incorporate a culture of growth, learn how to build teams to scale and advise on leading startup practices/business operating models.

For Whom?

Budding startups starting their growth journey in the agricultural sector

Growth stage: pre-revenue, seed-funded, angel-funded

Product/service offering stage: proof of concept developed, prototyping stage, provisional/total patents granted

Employee strength: 2-15 employees

●Keen interest in access to any or all the incubation offerings with a strong growth mindset and hunger for success and impact

Region- India

Pitch Deck and applications should include the following:

●The unique value proposition in the agriculture ecosystem - target market, potential opportunity size, competitive landscape

●The current stage of product/service offering

●High-level financials/unit economics

●Founders' background and experience

●Team composition and experience

●Expected support through incubation

Selection Process and Incubation

Setup process to review applications and next steps for incubation:

●Initial filtering based on eligibility criteria

●Monthly review of selected applications with the panel:

●Vetting proposal pitch

●Panel members (internal and external)

●Validation of MVP (If any), market potential, applicability and fit, strategic synergies, financial play, revenue, patents, team chemistry and founder's background/experience.

●Discussion with the incubation team - level 1

●Discussion with the founding team - level 2


●Vetting Process

●Commercial due diligence

●Legal, due diligence

●Incubation guardrail definitions: Duration of incubation, time to enter, NDA, Exit clause and timing

●Term Sheets (as required) and finalisation of the Incubation Agreement.

Thoughts on the incubation programme

Dhruv Sawhney, Business Head & COO,, said, "Agricultural productivity is at an all-time low. Food security is at risk, with an ever-growing population set to reach 10 billion by 2050. In addition, pests, diseases, and natural calamities destroy more than 40 per cent of annual production, thus resulting in a yearly loss of over $ 108 billion due to damaged or lost crops. has built digital highways to connect the heartlands of India by building robust technology platforms, agri e-commerce marketplace, market linkages, supply chain networks, advisory services, financial solutions and shared economy models. The need of the hour is for the industry to come together, pool resources, exchange information, and share learnings to foster growth and scale quickly.

As we look at the various problems in agriculture, we realise that we need to pave the way for agri-tech startups to drive innovation and change. These ventures can leverage our ecosystem, test their solution offerings at scale to establish a product-market fit and help solve the challenges for the farmers, the agri ecosystem, and the planet. The time to act is now, and our incubation programme 'Catalyst' is another step towards achieving that. We need to start focusing on fostering sustainable agricultural practices and work to integrate technology in this sector to solve the problems."

Why is starting this programme?

Despite the years of efforts invested in developing tech interventions by various ag-tech startups, the agriculture industry has yet to see many breakthrough offerings. Even as investments in the sector have seen an upward trend, there needs to be more support available for startups in the pre-revenue or MVP stage. We faced similar challenges and went through the same struggles as other startups in the space. Over the last two years, has worked hard to build digital highways connecting rural India. One of the critical roles we see ourselves playing is that of an open platform that gives other innovators and entrepreneurs ready market access, which is otherwise costly and time-consuming to build. We intend to pave the way for other startups and organisations working in the ag-ecosystem to leverage our infrastructure, reach and know-how to create solutions that accelerate the impact on rural communities.

By supporting new ideas in the agri-tech space, we are working towards building a digital-first sustainable ecosystem for various stakeholders across the agri-value chain. The programme will help create more jobs, improve smallholder income, impact rural livelihoods, drive farmer literacy, and improve market linkages and access to capital for the farmers. Building a sustainable ag-ecosystem is a challenge we cannot conquer alone.

Let us build brighter futures together!

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