AGLAUNCH AND FARM JOURNAL ANNOUNCE ROW CROP CHALLENGE WINNERS
Dec. 17, 2020
Source: joint organizations news release
Memphis, TN - After participating in a virtual week-long program and pitching to a committee of AgLaunch Farmer Network members and investor partners Innova Memphis and AgVentures Alliance, six startup companies have been selected to participate in the full AgLaunch365 accelerator and to participate in on-farm trials in 2021.
The AgLaunch Row Crop Challenge winners are addressing pain points identified by farmers like worker safety, traceability, weed management, and more. The six teams are:
• Global Neighbor, Inc.: Global Neighbor's first product for ag, the weed seed destroyer, uses light to make weed seeds collected at harvest non-viable, thereby addressing the problem of escape and herbicide-resistant weeds in grain crops.
Location: Dayton, Ohio
• Index Biosystems, Inc.: Index Biosystems designs genetic traceability into food system products, like the genetically barcoded yeast product which can be used as a biological label alongside any food system product.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
• JLI Robotics: The Grain Weevil powered by JLI Robotics is a mobile robot that scurries across the top of the grain inside of a storage bin performing tasks that no human should ever do.
Location: Aurora, Nebraska
• LeafTech Ag: LeafTech Ag provides an integrated handheld digital lab and crop management solution for enhanced crop quality and performance.
Location: Greenfield, Indiana
• ReEnvision Ag: The ReEnvision Ag Planter system works to allow farmers to plant in more diverse conditions without the pain of compaction the current industry standard causes.
Location: Nora Springs, Iowa
• Spornado, Inc.: The Spornado early alert system for crop disease helps growers optimize their pesticide use. The wind-powered air sampler and highly sensitive DNA analysis allows farmers to know when crop disease is in the air long before it is seen in the field, enabling them to spray precisely; saving time, money, and yields.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
"This year's cohort has already proven their commitment and determination given the uncertainty created by the pandemic. We could not be more excited about these companies, and our farmer network is eager to start working with the founders to define trial objectives and plans to get their technologies on the farm this next year," said Margaret Oldham, AgLaunch Business Development Specialist.
At the center of AgLaunch's work is a group of farmers engaged and committed to seeing promising agtech startups succeed. The companies moving into the next phase of programming have been screened, vetted, and endorsed by farmers at each stage of the process.
This year's challenge was focused on recruiting teams addressing the sustainability measures as laid out in the Cotton Trust Protocol, just one of several standards being presented to measure the impact of sustainable practices. The Protocol has identified areas where efficacy of a technology could be measured by a third-party verifier. This next trial season marks AgLaunch's second year of utilizing the Cotton Trust Protocol across all of its in-field trials, regardless of the crop.
In addition to potentially receiving investments from Innova Memphis and AgVentures Alliance, these companies will spend the early part of 2021 working on refining their business plans and planning their summer on-farm trials with AgLaunch's Farmer Network members and agronomist. These companies will be deploying on-farm trials with farmers supported through Tennessee Department of Agriculture, investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV and AgVentures Alliance, as well as accelerator support as part of the AgLaunch365 program designed with farmers at the center of the work.
Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, a $31 million, USDA-certified Rural Business Investment Company backed by eight Farm Credit banks, is based in Memphis and invests in early-stage agtech startups headquartered in rural locations across the country. Ag Ventures Alliance is an Iowa-based and nationally recognized farmer owned organization focused on increasing farm profitability and income. Ag Ventures Alliance finds ag tech investment opportunities for farmers, makes early-stage investments in technologies and facilitates a farmer network that pays farmers to test new technologies on their farms.
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