A Conversation with...

Will Wells

Will Wells is the founder and CEO of innovative agri-tech Artificial Intelligence business Hummingbird Technologies. The aim is to increase yields, optimise chemical inputs, and help growers farm more sustainably and make earlier, more informed decisions. He chats to CHAP about his passion for regenerative agriculture, the challenges of the job and his vision of the future.

 

How do you generally introduce yourself and the work you do?

My name is Will Wells, I am the founder and CEO of Hummingbird Technologies which is a data science business for the global agrifood sector. Since founding the business four years ago, we have been trying to enable regenerative agriculture through data science

 

What do you like most about your job?

I love the pace and excitement at being at the forefront of data science and regenerative agriculture and other tech that seeks to measure and minimise climate change: to transform the way food supply chains are monitored and to alleviate the chemical burden of feeding the world.

 

What do you find most challenging about your job/field?

It can be quite a challenge to manage 65 scientists remotely while trying to grow the business through the worst economic meltdown and staying abreast of scientific discovery in multiple geographies!

 

Hummingbird has been a member of CHAP for two years now. What difference do you see in your field following CHAP’s involvement?

We love CHAP’s positioning as an agent of change and innovation within UK Agriculture. CHAP provides a tremendous platform for technology businesses like Hummingbird to showcase our leading edge uk remote sensing solutions e.g. detection tillage type and frequency from space or measure the presence of cover crops or a change of land use. This is exactly the innovation partner we need

 

Tell me how you first got involved in the business of digital agronomy/Artificial Intelligence and crop analytics?

My background is a blend of food, farming and plant pathology (Home) and in technology investing (previous two jobs). Falling into this space was a natural evolution of both passions in my life.

 

Was your decision to work in this area influenced by anyone in particular? If so who was it and why are/were they important to you?

My family – they are all obsessed with food and plants. All of my previous bosses, who respectfully taught me that working 100-hour weeks would be better when worked for your own company.

 

What advice would you give to recent new entrants in this field?

Always raise more money than you need, develop your solution in the UK with a global audience in mind and do not be afraid to narrow your focus and become an expert in one thing

 

What do you think will be the biggest change in agriculture over the next five years, and why?

I am going to list my bullish and bearish predictions for the next five years.

I am bullish on AI done well (proper models with high accuracies and big data sets), I am bullish on microbiological solutions and further DNA sequence breakthroughs.

I am bearish on alt meat (which isn’t a sustainable alternative to responsibly reared livestock) and I am equally bearish on vertical farming, which is unrealistic in unit economic terms.

Backend software integrations will only accelerate the data set advantages. I am also bullish on fintech innovation in agriculture, agri learning from some of the best innovation in insurance and financial sectors. I am also bullish on food as medicine.

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

Building a business that challenged the status quo, for being the first to measure soil organic carbon using remote sensing and for giving it a go at the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and prosperous AgTech revolution.

 

If you had to stop working in this field, what would you choose to do instead?

I would remain in Data Science but if I had to choose a different vertical it would be healthcare, specifically in genetics or genome sequencing in cancer treatment.

 

For more information about the work Will and his company are doing, go to Hummingbird.

If you have any questions about CHAP, our Membership Scheme, or are interested in working with us on a specific project, then please send us an email at enquiries@chap-solutions.co.uk


Please note, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of CHAP.