Since July 2016 the company AgriWatch is a fact. Half a year later we welcomed entrepreneur Ali Abkar in our World Trade Center Twente in Hengelo. AgriWatch has further developed within the last 5 years. We spoke to Ali Abkar about the growth of his company and his experience with the World Trade Center Twente.
“Offer farmers a solution that can help them go one step further”
“AgriWatch was established as a UT Alumni startup in 2016. We focus on precision agriculture, also called smart farming. We use geoinformation or geoinformatics based techniques (such as Remote Sensing, GIS and GPS) to empower farmers so they can do their business in an easier way.
Being a son of a farmer, provided me with a good background and with knowledge of farming operations as well as business. My time as a student (Master and PhD at the UT), provided me with skills like ‘personal growth’ and ‘research’, which also brought me into contact with the techniques of remote sensing, GIS and GPS”, says Ali Abkar.
Research and development
AgriWatch today consists of 3 to 6 parttime and fulltime employees. “Currently we have 11 interns working on their final project with us. Students from three foreign universities, one in Germany, one in Poland and one in the UK, to establish a relationship with college and university, and increase our productivity. The students motivate us and bring in fresh perspectives because they are young and interested.
Beside this we work with 5 Dutch model farmers who also help in developing solutions and services. Together we work towards an answer on how to develop a farming partnership” (Ali Abkar, AgriWatch).
WTC Twente: Multi-service
“The connection with the World Trade Center Twente started with my search for flexworker space and my contact with Freerk Faber in mid December 2016. Only a week or two later I became a member of the WTC Twente Business Club.
Being a member of the Business Club is good for developing projects, discovering new markets, exploring business partners and connecting with them. When it comes to the Business Center, I have very good stories to tell about the working spaces and meeting rooms. Last year we started with a request for the Expat Center as well. I strongly recommend the services of the Expat Center, especially for start-ups and even for well established companies.
I would strongly recommend the multi-service of World Trade Center Twente to other entrepreneurs with an international ambition or mindset.”
Steps towards Internationalisation
In 2018 AgriWatch started with SIB (Starters in International Business). During a period of 6 months entrepreneurs work with support and guidance of an experienced coach towards a plan to start doing business abroad. Ali Abkar: “We started SIB with a selection of 10 different countries and reduced it to 5. We are now active in 3 of those countries (The Netherlands, Poland and Germany). SIB gave us structure and helped us to develop our goals and set priorities. It served as a good base for the next steps towards internationalisation.
AgriWatch also participated in 3 missions to Poland. The last gathering, organized by World Trade Center Twente in 2020, was to the Polagra Premiery in Poznan. We made new contacts and we could present our team, concept and techniques. The impact of participating at the Netherlands pavillion, supported by the World Trade Center Twente and the Dutch Embassy, is great. Through this network we created student internships and developed a joint proposal. AgriWatch is looking forward to future missions organized.”
Developments and future plans for AgriWatch
Our ambition was to go to South America, but due to Covid-19 we decided to slow down a bit and finalize our development plan. We will have our services and platform tested locally here in the Netherlands and will then expand it.
We have participated in a proposal in the (Saxion) Smart Solutions Semester for 2021-2022. The project proposal that we submitted and that has been approved is ‘’Assist farmers in precision agriculture under new climate conditions.’’ This is really relevant and challenging for us. Every Friday we have a meeting with the students in the World Trade Center Twente.
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