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Bayer, Microsoft form strategic partnership

Partnership to form new digital solutions for agriculture and adjacent industries, say company officials.

Bayer is forming a strategic partnership with Microsoft to build a new cloud-based set of digital tools and data science solutions for use in agriculture and adjacent industries, say Bayer officials. 

They add this partnership will create and enable a new business-to-business (B2B) offering to create off-the-shelf digital capabilities available to startups and established firms who want to innovate in agriculture and adjacent industries. 

Bayer officials say its agricultural expertise and  digital farming platform combined with Microsoft’s cloud technology and B2B solutions will:

  • Accelerate Bayer’s and Microsoft’s ability to innovate within ag and across the entire food (fuel, fiber and feed) value chain. 
  • Create and commercialize off-the-shelf opportunities for other companies to enter and innovate directly in ag and other industries. 
  • Support farmers and other food industry customers with new innovation and continuous improvements to important digital and data science features used to manage their operations. 

Bayer will also be a customer of the new B2B offering, using it as the digital infrastructure foundation for FieldView and other customer-facing solutions. Once developed, Bayer will leverage Microsoft’s cloud solution as the infrastructure and operating platform for FieldView and other digital solutions going forward. There will be no impact to the FieldView user experience, as it remains central to Bayer’s strategy, say Bayer officials.

“This partnership comes at a unique point in time where increased innovation is sorely needed across the food and fiber value chain,” said Liam Condon, member of the board of management of Bayer and president of Bayer crop science, in a news release. “As we cope with an ongoing global pandemic, fragile supply chains and the continuing climate catastrophe, status quo will not suffice. We need collaboration, shared vision, and action. For those reasons, Bayer and Microsoft are taking action to make a positive impact, both through our own collaboration as well as by offering off-the-shelf infrastructure and digital capabilities for other companies to address the enormous challenges facing our society.”

“As agriculture and technology entrepreneurs and organizations work to advance the security and sustainability of the value chain – supporting farmers at its foundation – collaboration is required,” said Jeremy Williams, who heads The Climate Corporation and Bayer digital farming solutions, in a news release. “Bayer is pioneering digital innovation within agriculture. Microsoft is setting the standard in trusted, global cloud solutions. Together, we can innovate and implement as a team to deliver the food, feed, fiber, and fuel needed to power our planet.”

“Like every industry, farming and the food sector are undergoing rapid digital transformation, from autonomous tractors, to AI-based digital advisories, and scalable precision agriculture,” said Ravi Krishnaswamy, corporate vice president, Azure global industry at Microsoft, in a news release. “We’re excited to partner with Bayer to accelerate this transformation and unlock even greater agricultural innovation by bringing together data-driven insights with Bayer’s agronomic expertise and the power of Microsoft Azure.”

Bayer officials say the partnership is part of a strategic step toward the firm’s target of 100% digitally enabled sales in its crop science division by 2030. It’s also a way to accelerate its ability to deliver outcomes-based, digitally enabled solutions to customers, they add. 

Data Privacy  

This partnership does not and will not change Bayer’s or FieldView’s privacy statement or commitment to stewarding customer data, say Bayer officials. Bayer does not and will not share customer farm data with third parties without consent, including with Microsoft, they add.  

“Microsoft has built a trusted cloud solution with millions of customers around the world across multiple industries – including healthcare, financial services and retail,” said a Bayer spokesperson. “Their approach to data security and compliance aligns with Bayer’s, and FieldView remains compliant with all regional data privacy and data storage regulations. 

Farmer customers continue to have full control of their farm data, including if/when they choose to share it with third parties. FieldView is also certified by Ag Data Transparent.”

Microsoft and Agriculture

It’s also part of Microsoft’s expansion into agriculture. In July 2020, Microsoft formed a multiyear strategic alliance with Land O’Lakes to develop agricultural technologies that include:

  • Mitigating early plant stress to guide precisely where and when farmers should take action during the growing season.
  • Maximizing yield potential by planting the right seed varieties.
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