Tell us about PES Technologies
PES Technologies has developed technology powering a game-changing soil health analysis tool, so that farmers and agronomists can make the right choices for their farms as efficiently as possible. Poor soil health is a problem that is reducing the productivity and profitability of the agricultural industry worldwide – although yields should be increasing, declining soil health is lowering or limiting crop yields, decreasing the resilience of crops to pests and diseases, and making crops less drought resilient. The societal and climactic benefits of restoring soil health make it key to addressing many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Farmers are increasingly understanding that healthy soils are key to profitable farming. Healthy soil has more micro-organisms per gram than there are people on the planet – and without these living microbes, soil is not soil, but just dust. There are many ways in which a soil’s health can be improved, but choosing the right way is key to a farm being as profitable as possible – and in order to maximise profitability, these choices need to be made as efficiently as possible. By developing a tool that will re-define soil testing, PES will make sustainable, profitable farming a reality every farmer can afford.
When did you start your business?
Sep 2017, though until Sep 2019 we were more of an R+D outfit than a business.
What's been your biggest highlight?
At founding, the technology powering our product was merely an idea of mine that I'd captured with pen-and-paper. We secured an Innovate UK grant and investment that not only helped make the technology a reality, but also enabled us to work with experts who could validate that this technology could be used to detect key characteristics related to soil health, such as microbial biomass and organic matter content. Once we knew the technology worked and could detect these key indicators, we began building a business around the technology.
What's been your biggest challenge?
Securing the resources we need to develop a viable product for our technology on a shoe-string budget. We made sure to win the grant funding that not only would significantly subsidise our in-house R+D costs, but also let us partner with the industry and academic experts who could help us make the best possible soil health assessment product available.
Advice for entrepreneurs starting out
Public grants are an absolute must for start-ups developing new tech, or products around new tech - not only can they subsidise in-house, but they can also cover the costs of any companies or institutions you need to partner with. Plus, they're a great way to partner with potential significant commercial partners and help you shape the product they (and the market) will want to buy from you!