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BIOSTL RECEIVES $100K AGTECH GRANT FROM WELLS FARGO INNOVATION INCUBATOR
Source: GlobalSTL news release

A $100,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) will enable BioSTL to launch a first-of-its-kind solution for moving Agtech ideas from concept to production by directly connecting innovators with Missouri growers.

As part of this new Early Adopter Grower Innovation Community (EAGIC), BioSTL will convene a strong community of Missouri growers who will provide the "voice of the customer" and will test, validate and provide valuable feedback on innovative solutions that meet their needs, on their land.

"One of the biggest hurdles facing Agtech startups is proving their solutions work in the field," said Donn Rubin, President & CEO of BioSTL. "Success in growth chambers, green houses, or different geographies can be viewed skeptically by growers, who have seen mixed results when that innovation is later applied to their fields. Finding an early adopter pilot partner, who can test innovations directly in the field, can be invaluable to innovators."

If their solutions match the needs of the early adopters, they will get the chance to deploy their tech solution in a real-world setting and get direct feedback from the growers. This de-risks the innovator's technology, gives them more data, and accelerates market deployment.

IN2, a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co- administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has announced BioSTL as a recipient of its prestigious IN2 Channel Partner Award to implement the EAGIC model. As an official Channel Partner of the IN2 program, BioSTL has been recognized for its efforts to advance sustainable technology solutions that can improve energy efficiency. BioSTL is one of just 13 organizations nationally to receive the award this year.

Launched in 2014, IN2 is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies in commercial buildings and in the agriculture sector. To help foster enhanced collaboration, IN2 created a network of Channel Partners-a nationwide system of incubators, accelerators, and university programs that refer startup companies to the program.

Entering its third year, the Channel Partner Awards Program will disburse $1 million in competitive grants across 13 recipient organizations in order to help advance sustainable technology solutions that can catalyze new collaborations, capital flow and job creation.

The grant from IN2 will allow BioSTL to implement and manage the EAGIC program to strengthen and expand the St. Louis ag innovation ecosystem by filling this unique gap between innovators and grower practitioners. If the pilot goes well, farmers could continue using the tech, to be negotiated with the innovator at a discounted rate for allowing the innovation trial.

"We are proud to earn the IN2 grant to help Missouri's farmers stay ahead of their competition and put them in a position to thrive in the highly-competitive global agriculture market," said Rubin. "EAGIC is a unique approach that invites farmers to be partners in innovation. This direct connection between global innovators and their end customers adds to St. Louis' magnetic draw of the best ag innovation from around the world."

"The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is proud to provide additional support to BioSTL for its efforts to accelerate the development and commercialization of clean technology and support for early-stage entrepreneurs," said Ramsay Huntley, Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy program officer with Wells Fargo. "These are the folks who are really disrupting the industry and driving innovation."

"Ultimately, the goal with our Channel Partner Awards Program is to create a strong, collaborative ecosystem of support across the country," said Trish Cozart, IN2 Program Manager at NREL. "We are funding these partners to continue their support of early-stage entrepreneurs and support of each other as they create partnerships and share knowledge."

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the Wells Fargo Foundation partner to expand the IN2 program to include agriculture innovation.

"As partners to the Wells Fargo Foundation in their funding of the IN2 program, in particular, validating research to be conducted at The Danforth Center on behalf of five early-stage agriculture innovation companies, we recognize the critical importance of field testing and engagement with farmers and growers," said Sam Fiorello, chief operating officer, Danforth Plant Science Center.

"We congratulate our friends at BioSTL on their Channel Partner award and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them to support the commercialization of innovative solutions for sustainable food production," said Fiorello.

Since 2017, the IN2 Channel Partner Awards Program has distributed approximately $2.1 million in competitive and non-competitive grants in support of more than 74 events, strategic meetings and trainings as well as 21 larger strategic initiatives between 23 organizations.

In the pilot year of the awards program, funded projects engaged over 1,800 participants (entrepreneurs, industry, academia and others), created nearly 200 jobs, led to over $18.3 million in follow-on funding for startups involved and leveraged $812,000 in matching funds from outside organizations.

For more information on the awards program, please visit www.in2ecosystem.com.


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