Hawaii agtech company receives federal grant

May 26 – Hawaii-based agtech company Smart Yields and its partners at the Pacific Rim Agricultural Research Center in Hilo were selected as one of five teams across the country to receive an innovation grant from the US Department of Agriculture focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Hawaii-based agtech company Smart Yields and its partners at the Pacific Rim Agricultural Research Center in Hilo were selected as one of five teams across the country to receive an innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USA focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The proposal, which features a “CoffeeMD” computer vision platform that can quickly identify the source of damage in coffee as pests, diseases or nutrient deficiencies, raised $100,000 from the AI ‚Äč‚ÄčInnovation Fund, under USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. .

“Coffee is the second most valuable agricultural commodity in Hawaii, but with more than 1,000 coffee farms across the state and only one assigned extension agent, our ability to assist farmers on the ground is limited,” said Melissa Johnson, ARS research biologist, who will serve as principal investigator for the machine learning/AI project. “There is an urgent need for growers to be able to quickly identify problems in their fields without having to go through an agent or search for lengthy documents online.”

“Artificial intelligence has recently captured the public imagination as new generative big language models are poised to transform all sectors of business,” said Smart Yields CEO Ryan Ozawa. “But the machine learning models we will deploy are tried and tested tools that could one day diagnose plant problems faster and more accurately than humans – the most limited resource in a global drive to revitalize agriculture as an economic engine and a part critique of community sustainability”.

With the successful launch of the “CoffeeMD” project, which further expands the capabilities of the Best Beans app, Ozawa will step down as CEO of Smart Yields and lead founder Vincent Kimura will once again lead the next chapter of the company.

Ozawa was promoted to CEO in January 2021, as Kimura served as director of programs and partnerships at the University of Hawaii Office of Innovation and Commercialization, which relaunched its incubator in 2022. Ozawa, Kimura and Isar Mostafanezhad, Director High-performance computer executive, chip designer Nalu Scientific, founded Smart Yields in 2015.

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