AgLaunch March 2018 Newsletter
It has been quite the winter! AgLaunch has been running full-steam ahead for the last few months. From hosting a convening with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research about cropping systems of the future to recruiting and supporting new agtech teams, we’ve been busy.
As you know, we moved to year-round focused programming with AgLaunch365. We continue to work closely with Innova and their USDA RBIC AgInnovation Fund IV to invest in innovative agtech companies. We had three teams join us in the fall to participate in Phase I, where they worked with our partners at StartCo. to conduct customer discovery and develop a viable business model. Participating teams were:
As 2018 kicked off, so did Phase II of our programming. Our teams began working with agronomists, farmers, and researchers to develop comprehensive, 3-year field trial plans to begin “ground-truthing” their technologies. Joining the cohort for this phase was Rantizo.
For the second year, AgLaunch hosted the StartUp Station as part of the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, the premier event for thousands of farmers to experience three floors of exhibits and to see the latest in farm equipment technology. The StartUp Station boasted fifteen of the most innovative agtech companies in the business right now. They pitched their ideas to a panel of expert farmers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs.
As an additional benefit for the Phase II teams, they were able to connect with Congressman David Kustoff and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and share their technologies with them directly.
Moving into the spring, we are in field-trial mode. Our teams are working directly with farmers to test their technologies and collect meaningful data. New this year is a cost-share pilot project with Tennessee Department of Agriculture for Tennessee farmers trialing AgLaunch companies’ technology. Additionally, AgLaunch was awarded a $125,000 grant from Tennessee’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund to create model farms for innovation and research.
Repeatedly this winter, I have been asked to share our vision, our model, and our work with members of state legislatures and, in February, I even testified about how agtech can revitalize rural America before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade. You can read my written testimony here.
We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done and how we’re growing. We want to thank Memphis Bioworks and Tennessee Department of Agriculture for their continued support, and thank you for your role in building a truly transformational region and ag sector.