Ag tech

Agtech startup GoMicro has built a $1 microscope to solve a $1 trillion food waste problem

- July 13, 2022 2 MIN READ
Dr Sivam Krish with GoMicro’s Spotcheck App
South Australian agtech startup GoMicro is hoping to tackle the $1 trillion problem with an app-based device that costs just $1 to produce and attaches to a smartphone.

GoMicro CEO and founder Dr Sivam Krish has developed GoMicro’s Spotcheck App and a phone attachable magnifier designed for accurately assessing the level of ripeness or spoilage of fresh foods.

The microscopy 4.0 startup is based at Flinders University’s New Venture Institute. It originally launched in 2020 as an Edtech venture before pivoting to become GoMicro after finding a bigger opportunity in the agriculture sector.

GoMicro won the Bayer Grants4Ag competition, which led to an ongoing relationship with Bayer Crop Sciences, as well as second prize in the 2021 Rocket Speeder FOOD WASTE + LOSS Accelerator Program pitch competition.

Dr Krish is presented his evidence on the GoMicro’s Spotcheck device’s effectiveness at reading the accuracy of food spoilage in his presentation at the 400M Agrifood Innovation Forum in Toowoomba, Queensland, today.

He believes the innovation, which provides greater accuracy through a superior imaging system and AI App, could save our agricultural industries vast sums of money.

“We can assess the ripeness or spoilage of fruits and vegetables with a 86-to-99% accuracy, measured in days,” he said.

“It’s very topical issue for the food industry to address, with an estimated 30% of our food being spoiled. We can see that there are some very strong commercial opportunities for a cheap and portable devise to have the power to make accurate food spoilage assessments.”

Dr Krish says the GoMicro team took 100 images of an array of different vegetables every day to gather training images for building the AI application. Typically, AI applications require thousands of images for training and are unable to achieve high accuracies in field conditions.

GoMicro’s aim of re-inventing the microscope and instilling it with artificial intelligence is designed to make the highest quality technology accessible to the public and not just scientists.

The company’s patent-pending technology creates lab-quality imaging conditions that significantly increase the accuracy of detection, reducing the number of images needed for training purposes, resulting in the most accurate AI detection that is available at this level of magnification.

GoMicro has placed its initial focus on agriculture to help farmers and agronomists detect pests, leaf disease and assess food quality accurately.

“Any farmer with a phone will have the diagnostic capability of an agronomist – through building a more accurate AI engine into the Spotcheck microscope attached to a phone,” Dr Krish said.

“It’s an important breakthrough, because microscopic information can provide a vast array of information across a wide range of agricultural issues. More importantly we will be making it possible for anyone to build and deploy accurate AI applications.”

His solution already has plenty of fans, with Ten Farms Fresh Produce Executive David Holman saying: “Go Micro application is absolutely brilliant for all tray pack fruit and it has so many benefits including label compliance, stems, blemish, and colour.

Dr Jonathan Middis, SA Innovation Manager at the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre said the current problem for the farming sector is that currently, around one third of the food supply intended for human consumption ends up either lost or wasted.

“Closer to home, CSIRO research indicates that this equates to as much as 830 kilotonnes of fruit and veg wasted in packing and processing alone,” he said.

“Consistent accessible quality standards are one pathway to help significantly reduce this figure through the supply chain, and we are actively working with partners on new technologies to deliver solutions in this space.”