Gwendoline Legrand, co-director GOFAR
There are many tradeshow in the world, but few are as focussed as World FIRA. From 7 to 9 February 2023, Toulouse (France) is de world capital of Ag Robotics! The ideal moment to discover autonomous solutions for a future-proof agriculture. We talked with Gwendoline Legrand, Co-director of GOFAR, the Global Organization For Agricultural Robotics, the association behind the tradeshow.
Robots and autonomous systems are on the rise in the agricultural sector. They have the potential to increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and improve crop yields, making them an increasingly attractive option for farmers around the world. During World FIRA, 50 exhibitors from all over the world come together in Toulouse (France) to show and demonstrate the latest developments in the field of agricultural robotics. World FIRA alternates with FIRA USA, an event dedicated to ag robotics in California. One of the people behind GOFAR & FIRA is Gwendoline Legrand, who started out as communications manager at Naïo Technologies, a French agricultural robot developer and organizer of the first FIRA events, before becoming co-director of GOFAR.
Gwendoline, can you tell us a bit more about FIRA, and how it started?
FIRA was originally organized by Naïo Technologies, a French developer of agricultural robotic solution. The first edition took place in November 2016, and drew some 200 participants, which was an unexpectedly high turnout. 5 different robot manufacturers showed their solutions to the audience, which came from 10 different countries. By 2019 we had 800 physical attendees and 1.200 online attendees from 42 countries and 25 different robot manufacturers. End of 2022 we had the first edition of FIRA USA, after the Covid-19 crisis. With World FIRA in February 2023 we hope to pick up where we left off in Europe also.
Ag robotics is a new part of the agricultural sector. Do you notice a difference for women in the sector?
I am not aware of a difference between men and women in our part of the sector. Of course there is always a difference in interpersonal connections, but this has no impact on the different roles within projects. It is true that we have more male visitors than female visitors on our tradeshows, and also within the projects there is a male dominance, but I believe that this will change as more and more girls enrol in STEM education.
FIRA does try to honour women entrepreneurs, often the decision makers of agtech, through their presence in for example debates we organize. For FIRA USA we had more than 20 women on stage during the 3 days of the event. As we are still working on the program for World FIRA 2023, I cannot tell you how many women will be in the spotlights, but each one of them will sure be worth it!
What can we expect in Toulouse?
On February 8 & 9, there will be in-field robot demonstrations. More than 20 autonomous machines will show their skills on 15.000 m² (3,7 acres). They will be weeding, scouting, seeding, tilling and so on. More than 50 exhibitors will be ready to receive interested show visitors, with the latest developments in agricultural robotic solutions but also with services related to robotics and autonomous systems. On the 8th there is special attention for investors in autonomous solutions with also an award for the most promising start-up. On the 7th of February, there is also a specific scientific workshop, the International Day of agRobotics research & development ! The submission deadline for the workshop is January 6th, and All contributions falling within the scope of the scientific topic ‘Accessible robotic technologies for the agricultural transition’ are welcome!
FIRA World – 7-8-9 February 2023
Location: AGROBIOPOLE, Cité des Sciences Vertes – Toulouse (France)
Regular ticket – €180
Student ticket – €49
Grower ticket – Free
Readers of Women in Ag Magazine can use the promo code WFIRA23WIA50 and get a 50% discount on their ticket!