Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Global Agribusiness: How to Stir a Sleeping Giant

Law Firm’s Global Agri-Biz Practice Head Connects ALL the Dots in AgWire Interview

By Marc Dresner, IIR

Joshua Hofheimer, an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP and coordinator of the firm’s global agribusiness practice, isn’t the first to refer to the sector as a sleeping giant.

But he is among an exclusive handful of experts capable of connecting the dots—and the players—necessary to stir global agribusiness from its slumber.

Couple population growth and resource scarcity—they’re not making any more land or water—with undervalued assets, under-production and runaway technological innovation and you have a compelling investment equation.

So why hasn’t the global agribusiness market rocketed off? Well, the math isn’t as simple as it seems.

Hofheimer noted CropLife estimates time-to-market—from discovery to commercialization—of a biotech trait is about 13 years, the cost has risen to approximately $130 million per trait and the regulatory timeframe has doubled to roughly four years.

In addition, there’s a coverage deficiency that’s impeding the flow of venture capital to where it’s needed.

Joshua Hofheimer
“We are still fragmented when you start to look at the inflection points or the intersection between technology and what some people call clean tech and how that influences or overlaps with agriculture in certain areas and the life sciences,” said Hofheimer. “When you start to integrate those different segments into a business or into a business model, the research coverage breaks down because it becomes fragmented.”

Ah, but therein lies the opportunity. Hofheimer and his colleagues aren’t waiting for analysts to catch up; they’re matchmaking.

“When you bring together activists’ interests, entrepreneurial spirit, technology and commercial enterprise, that’s when you will see more and more exciting companies with new ideas that are going to have a really big and innovative impact in this market, and also have a beneficial impact on our environment,” Hofheimer told AgWire.

“I just want to be a part of it by helping to bring companies together and ideas together… We have a great platform for helping those companies to develop and mature, and for those bigger companies to compete on a global scale, and to help investors find and structure some really interesting opportunities,” he added.

In this episode of AgWire, Hofheimer provides a comprehensive overview of the global agribusiness frontier, including:

• Development and commercialization processes
• Global regulatory strategy
• Technological advancement and innovation
• Partnering opportunities and more…

Listen to this episode of AgWire: Part I & Part II

Download an interview transcript.

Editor’s note:Hear more from Josh Hofheimer in person. He’s chairing AgReturn San Francisco March 13-15. For more information or to register, click here.

AgWire is an executive interview series featuring the business leaders, investment experts, innovators and entrepreneurs at the forefront of the agriculture industry. Each episode explores the trends, technologies and drivers shaping the world of agriculture today.

Marc Dresner is IIR's sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the market research industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

1 comment:

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