News Release: AGLAUNCH RECEIVES REGIONAL INNOVATION CLUSTER AWARD FROM SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

Mid-South Delta Region Designated as Regional Innovation Cluster Focused on AgTech and Value-Chain Businesses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (April 16, 2019) — AgLaunch Initiative (AgLaunch) has been named one of seven new Small Business Administration’s Regional Innovation Clusters, a program built to strengthen opportunities for small businesses within a region focused on a specific industry vertical. AgLaunch will be leading the Mid-South Delta Agriculture Innovation Cluster (“Delta Ag Cluster”), the first SBA cluster to be focused on agtech and value-chain companies that is centered around a major farming region.

“Tennessee has a proud agricultural tradition, and as a fellow farmer, I am pleased to support partnerships like AgLaunch that ensure future generations have a place in ag,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “Thanks to AgLaunch, we’re able to further support two critical missions in our state: agriculture and small business.”

AgLaunch, based in Memphis, Tenn., will be expanding its Farm-Centric Innovation Model, an original approach to growing, supporting, and creating agriculture businesses, attracting investment capital, and enabling farmers to participate in the innovation process. The cluster’s strategy is focused on creating and scaling rural small businesses that will support the next generation of farming capabilities needed to connect urban food processing opportunities and emerging consumer trends.

“This is a great opportunity for our region to further elevate the vision of making the Mid-South the best place in the United States to create the farms of the future and supply the products that consumers are demanding,” said Pete Nelson, Executive Director of AgLaunch. “The partnership with SBA and USDA will allow us to further expand the Farm-Centric Innovation Model to more farmers, incubate more businesses, and ensure that there is adequate capital and technical support to grow the amazing food and agriculture opportunities.”

The Delta Ag Cluster is a 98-county, five-state region comprised of primarily rural counties in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. AgLaunch will be leading regional activities with key partners and stakeholders including cohort-based programming, business acceleration, commercialization assistance, mentorship, access to capital, market development, and other business services.

“We are so proud to see AgLaunch recognized for providing ag tech businesses the opportunity to thrive,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M said. “Agricultural economic development is one of the primary goals of the Department of Agriculture and of Governor Lee. This award and expansion amplifies Tennessee and the Mid-South as the epicenter for advancements in the ag industry.”

The geographically large cluster provides ample production acreage and resources such as university experiment stations, processing and storage infrastructure, and transportation capabilities needed to incubate, commercialize, and support agtech innovations and companies. Funding for the cluster will consist of a base year and $500,000, with four additional option years, and requires partnerships with and between business and industry groups, academic institutions, economic development organizations, entrepreneurial education programs, and training initiatives.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of Governor Lee, Commissioner Hatcher at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and Jim Tracy at USDA Rural Development. Without partners like these, the work we do would not be possible,” said Nelson.

AgLaunch has already begun assembling and convening a regional steering committee and planning cluster events. For more information, contact Rebecca Kaufman at rkaufman@aglaunch.com.

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About AgLaunch
AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all. AgLaunch leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.

NEWS RELEASE: AgLaunch and Ag Ventures Alliance Partner to Further Engage Farmers

 

AgLaunch Executive Director Highlights Farm-Centric Innovation Model at Ag Ventures Alliance Annual Meeting

MASON CITY, IA. (March 21, 2019) — Pete Nelson, Executive Director of AgLaunch Initiative (AgLaunch) is presenting the keynote address to the Ag Ventures Alliance (AgVA) Annual Membership Meeting today. The presentation will highlight AgLaunch’s Farm-Centric Innovation Model, a unique approach to building agtech companies in which farmers incubate new agtech and value-added companies in exchange for equity in the new enterprises. AgVA and AgLaunch have recently signed an MOU to co-invest in new early-stage companies, as well as to create new opportunities for farmers to participate in the innovation value-chain.

“AgLaunch is honored to address AgVA’s farmers about how to pool their resources into jumpstarting the agtech industry and next generation of value-added processing. AgVA’s history of farmer-led innovation and investment in new technologies is a natural extension of AgLaunch’s Farm-Centric Innovation Model,” said Nelson. “Expanding our farmer network beyond the Mid-South Delta region allows AgLaunch to build on its current work and gives startup companies additional opportunities to test and develop their products.”

AgLaunch and AgVA are committed to establishing a network of farmers to incubate new technologies that includes pilot trials, farmer feedback and guidance, as well as providing startup capital.

“We are pleased to have AgLaunch at our annual meeting to further advance the collaboration between the two organizations,” said Jude Conway, Executive Director of Ag Ventures Alliance. “Investing in the future of agriculture with AgLaunch is adding tremendous value to our farmer-members and provides a new collaborative opportunity for startups we are investing in.”

Currently, the two organizations are jointly supporting startup companies like Agrisync, SwineTech, Shepherd, Soil Nerd, and Rantizo through direct investments, farm-scale trials, and business support. Additionally, AgLaunch and AgVA also support value-added enterprises related to new crops, new market opportunities, and processing.

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About AgLaunch
AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all. AgLaunch leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.

About Ag Ventures Alliance
Ag Ventures Alliance is a business development organization for value-added agricultural ventures. It was formed by a group of farmers and agriculture related individuals in northern Iowa to increase the incomes of farmers and other rural residents by participating in agriculture related businesses beyond the farm gate.As farmers and agriculture related individuals, the members of Ag Ventures Alliance are taking control of their economic future by participating in value-added agriculture businesses.They will accomplish this by creating new value-added agriculture businesses and helping existing value-added businesses expand.

NEWS: Applications Open for Statewide Bootcamp for Tennessee Agricultural Innovation Startups

Mark Johnson, founder and CEO of Newton RFID, giving his final pitch presentation at the 2018 bootcamp held in Knoxville, Tenn.

Applications Due May 15

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (March 4, 2019) — AgLaunch and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center are again partnering for a week-long agri-tech bootcamp to support Tennessee agriculture startup teams. The bootcamp will be held on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville from July 8-12, 2019. Teams accepted into the program will experience best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming and have access to investors, mentors, and farmers.

Eligible applicants must be located in Tennessee and should be focused on addressing real problems in agriculture within the crop and livestock sectors and all along the food value-chain. Teams can include:
  • Small startup companies operating in the agricultural sector;
  • Existing companies that are creating new innovations or product lines; and
  • Student or faculty teams that are developing new innovations in agriculture.
“The AgLaunch Bootcamp offered us an intensive examination of our company, both in preparing ourselves for market and initial capital investment. The support, resources, and access to professional mentors helped us to think strategically as we constructed a solid foundation for our company’s future growth and success,” said Mark Johnson, founder and CEO of Newton RFID and last year’s bootcamp participant.
Building on a last year’s bootcamp, programming for 2019 will include farm tours and sessions focused on marketing, venture capital, working with land-grant universities, and field design and research. Teams will receive instruction from Tennessee partners like University of Tennessee Research Foundation, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Agricenter International, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, and others.
Applications are being accepted through 5 pm EST on May 15, 2019. Tennessee-based entrepreneurs with an idea or an agtech startup who are interested in the intensive bootcamp can apply here. For more information, contact Schuyler Dalton at sdalton@aglaunch.com.

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About AgLaunch
AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all. AgLaunch leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.
Knoxville Entrepreneur Center is a business accelerator located in Market Square that serves as the front door for entrepreneurs in our region, and a resource for anyone looking to start or grow a business here. By nurturing and supporting a culture of entrepreneurship, we are fostering innovation, creativity and job growth within our community. KEC is a place for networking, education and teaching others what we’ve learned. We are a mentor-driven business accelerator, a shared workspace and a source of mediocre coffee. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, KEC is funded through sponsorships, partnerships, grants and membership fees. In addition to support from the City of Knoxville and the State of Tennessee, KEC relies on the generous contributions of leading East Tennessee corporations, successful entrepreneurs and those who have a vested interest in the success of new businesses in our region.

Eight Agri-Food Tech Entrepreneurs from Around the World to Compete for $250k in Funding from Radicle Growth at World Agri-Tech Pitch Day 2019

The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit partnered with acceleration fund Radicle Growth on the second annual Radicle Challenge taking place at the upcoming World Agri-Tech Pitch Day on March 18 in San Francisco. Today, eight startups from around the world have been announced as the finalists to compete in the Pitch Day competition: US-basedAgrospheres, Aromyx, Napigen, Traive, Brazil-based AgTrace, Australia-based EscaVox, Turkey-based Tarfin and Kenya-based Tulaa. All eight finalists will benefit from pre-pitch coaching ahead of the summit from Radicle Growth, who will invest $250k in the Pitch Day winner.

Hundreds of seed-stage startups representing diverse technology offerings for the agtech and foodtech sectors applied to participate in the Pitch Day. A panel of judges, including Radicle’s Kirk Haney, Arama Kukutai (Finistere Ventures), Geoff Kneen (Bayer, Crop Science), Mai Komatsu (Corteva AgriScience) and Adrian Percy (Independent Advisor), evaluated the submissions and selected the finalists. The Pitch Day winner will be announced on the first day of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit (March 19) and will present within the start-up Technology Showcase on March 20 to over 1,200 global agribusinesses and investors, unlocking powerful opportunities for growth.

Commenting on the entries, Kirk Haney, Managing Partner of Radicle Growth, said: “Once again, we saw a fantastic response for participation in the Pitch Day competition, with hundreds of entries from innovators around the world. Now is an exciting time for agtech innovators and investors, and we’re delighted to support their route to market with this platform to showcase their solutions and to benefit from our $250k investment and mentoring. We look forward to the presentations and to working with the selected winner.”

The eight finalists:

Agrospheres (US) has developed a platform technology for encapsulation of biomolecules and synthetic chemicals. It is developing biological-based crop protection products for the control of thrips and fungi, also working with partners to improve the delivery and efficacy of pesticides and the delivery of double-stranded RNA.

AgTrace (Brazil) is a traceability solution that ensures transparency and information reliability, reducing response time to issues within the food value chain. Based on deep knowledge of farming processes and advanced IoT and blockchain technologies, AgTrace guarantees information security about agriculture processes, using sensors and equipment to register information from inside and outside the farm.

Aromyx (US) enables the creation of quantitative digital representations of taste and smell, by isolating natural human olfactory receptors and converting them to a standardized diagnostic format.  Its olfactory database provides a basis for machine learning to analyze flavors and fragrances, offering revolutionary precise quality control diagnostics to compare crops from different locations or production times, and to resolve issues of off-flavors or contaminant.

EscaVox (Australia) has the ambition to help transform the food supply chains to allow better decisions to be made, allowing waste to be reduced and food safety increased. It uses cleverly designed software to import and connect various data sets, then analyses and identifies problem areas. It combines this with tracking data to give the full end to end impact on the product – the ‘voice’ of the product.

Napigen (US) offers mitochondrial CRISPR genome editing, with the goal to create a new platform for hybrid wheat seed production by providing elite male sterile and restoration lines that are uniquely produced by our genome editing tools, introducing robust, non-GMO, male sterile and restoration lines.  The hybrid wheat platform will stack valuable traits such as herbicide tolerance and biotic/abiotic stress tolerance without losing their value by undesirable self-propagation.

Tarfin (Turkey) provides farmers with instant, competitive point-of-sale credit terms for their farm inputs purchases. Using proprietary algorithms and an expansive retail network, Tarfin’s machine-learning-based credit algorithms instantly assess a farmer’s likelihood of repayment. Transactional as well as farm level data are taken into account, helping the company convert more leads into sales.

Traive (US) is an ag-fintech solution that unlocks credit to farmers by connecting them to lenders and providing ML-based credit risk assessment and monitoring. Traive brings farmers state-of-the-art technology to offer a novel and fair credit risk assessment, opening the door for affordable funding for their businesses. For lenders, Traive provides a differentiated analysis applied over alternative farming and individual data, while allowing access to a much larger and diversified portfolio of borrowers.

Tulaa (Kenya) is a marketplace for smallholder farmers in Africa to access inputs, credit, training and buyers. Using mobile technology and artificial intelligence, Tulaa enables farmers to buy inputs like fertilizer on credit, receive training on good agricultural practices, and to find buyers at harvest time.

For more information on the challenge, finalists and the summit please visit: https://worldagritechusa.com/radicle-challenge/

World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit:
www.worldagritechusa.com

The World Agri-Tech Innovation Series gathers the industry twice a year in London and San Francisco. Taking place March 19-20, 2019 at the Hilton Union Square in the heart of San Francisco’s business district, the 5th US edition of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit welcomes 1200+ agribusinesses, entrepreneurs and investors to a two-day conference, networking events, workshops, tours and cocktail receptions. The event is complemented by the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit (March 18) and Future Food-Tech Summit (March 21-22) at the same venue, together making Rethink Agri-Food Innovation Week (RAFI Week).

Radicle Growth:
www.radicle.vc

The Radicle Growth acceleration fund focuses on the areas of Digital Agriculture, Biologicals, New Farm Systems and Seed Technology. Its goal is to transform the speed of innovation in agriculture by ensuring seed stage companies have the right amount of capital and resources, supporting their growth through expert advisory services and introductions to partners, VCs and investors.

Rethink Events
www.rethinkevents.com

UK-based Rethink Events organizes international, world-renowned business summits for entrepreneurs, businesses and global investors in sustainable food, agriculture, energy and water.

 

Further contact:
Tate Slyfield, Marketing & PR Executive, Rethink Events  tate.slyfield@rethinkevents.com
Rebecca Lincoln, Business Analyst, Radicle Growth              rlincoln@radicle.vc

AgLaunch February 2019 Newsletter

Friends,

We have already had a busy 2019. We’re supporting three companies in the AgLaunch365 Phase II program and preparing to hit the fields in Tennessee with new technologies and value-added projects through our expanded farmer network trials made possible by our partnership with Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

We were proud to support and sponsor some great events as part of the collective effort of AgLaunch and our partners to provide greater coordination of deal flow, capital, and farmer access across the United States. It was fantastic to support Farm Credit Services’s AgTech Innovation Showcase held at the Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines, IA, and we also love the AgPitch model pioneered at Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit in which a diverse group of partners are innovating in agriculture. There is a great video here to learn more.
The next regional agricultural innovation event will be the AgLaunch Startup Station at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis on March 1 with a pre-event reception on February 28 sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America.
The next events we also participating in with our agricultural innovation regional partners are:
  • Our partner Ag Ventures Alliance has invited me to speak on March 21 at their Annual Meeting in Mason City, IA on farm-centric innovation and ways we can expand our collaboration between Tennessee and Iowa.
  • We will participate as a panelist and speaker at the New Uses Forum 2019: Accelerating Ag Innovation and Investment in St. Louis Park, Minnesota on March 27-28 coordinated by Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Georgetown’s Rural Opportunity Initiative, and Compeer.
The most important things we have done this winter have been meeting with our farmers in Tennessee and surrounding regions. We have onboarded new farmers as members of the farmer network, and laid out objectives for expanding the network of trials and startup collaborations for 2019, continuing to ramp up working with Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Finally we are excited that iSelect’s Davos on the Delta conference is returning to Memphis on May 14-15 as part of the Memphis in May BBQ Fest activities. This event will bring hundreds of thought leaders from across the globe to Tennessee and the Delta region to talk about the agricultural value-chains of the future.

Thank you to Agricenter International, Innova Memphis, and Farm Journal Media for all you do to support AgLaunch and most importantly the investors, startup companies and farmers that we are facilitating.

Cheers,

Pete Nelson
Executive Director
AgLaunch Initiative

AgLaunch is proud to be a marketing partner with the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. The Summit is headed back to the west coast this March. It is a great chance to share ideas and network with the most senior audience of agribusiness leaders, technology innovators and investors. They’re primed to discuss agtech breakthroughs and opportunities for partnership and collaboration, from genomics to soil health, precision ag to AI. Secure your place now for World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco on March 19-20 and take advantage of our discount code AGL400 to save $400 on a delegate pass.

 

Michael Ott, founder of Rantizo, won the Ag Tech Innovation Showcase at the Iowa Power Farming Show coordinated by Farm Credit Services of America in Des Moines, IA. Working with our partners in the midwest is improving access of Tennessee farmers to the latest technologies such as Rantizo which is addressing spray drift and herbicide resistant weeds, while mobilizing more investment capital for farmer-centric innovation.

Spencer Stensrude with Ag Ventures Alliance addresses the Farmer Network at the Winter Meeting.

Dr. Bruce Kirksey from Agricenter International works with AgLaunch365 Phase II teams on designing effective field trials.

AgLaunch Executive Director Pete Nelson and newly-appointed Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Charlie Hatcher at the Tennessee Cattleman’s Association Annual Meeting in Murfreesboro, TN.

Mark Keenum, Ph.D., President of Mississippi State University and current Chair of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research Board welcomes attendees to the evening session on ecosystem markets at the Foster the Future event in Washington, D.C.

 

Upcoming Events

March 1-2, 2019
Mid-South Farm and Gin Show
Memphis, TN
March 19-20, 2019
World Agritech Innovation Summit
San Francisco, CA
March 19-20, 2019
Invest Midwest Venture Capital Forum
Kansas City, KS
March 27-28, 2019
New Uses Forum
St. Louis Park, Minnesota
May 14-15, 2019
Davos on the Delta
Memphis, TN
May 15-16, 2019
StartQ
Memphis, TN

SAVE THE DATE! AgLaunch at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show March 1, 2019

Join us at the 2019 Mid-South Farm and Gin Show for the return of the Aglaunch Startup Station and Showcase on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Startup Station will be open starting at 10:30 am and the Startup Showcase will begin at 11:00 am. The Showcase event will highlight some of the most exciting startup companies in agriculture. Watch an expert panel of investors, farmers, and agribusiness representatives vet the latest in breakthrough ag innovations.

Kick off your weekend with our Welcome Reception on Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 6:00-8:00 pm in downtown Memphis.

In addition to the Aglaunch Startup Station and Showcase, attendees will be able to see the latest in farm equipment and services at the Mid-South’s largest farm show.

We look forward to seeing you in Memphis!

2019 AgLaunch New Year Update

Friends,

2018 was a tremendous year for AgLaunch, starting with the news that we are now an independent nonprofit organization led by an impressive board and operations team. We are thankful for the leadership and vision of Tennessee’s former Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton who have helped start AgLaunch, and we welcome Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Charlie Hatcher, both of whom are proven leaders and multi-generational farmers in Tennessee who will expand the economic impact of agriculture through innovation.

Some of the highlights from last year include:

  • New and stronger partnerships in St. Louis, North Carolina, and Iowa that share best practices and create mutually-beneficial deal flow;
  • A growing portfolio that includes an additional 14 agtech startup companies and other value-added producer projects, including grain sorghum and malt barley;
  • Successful deployment of pilot projects with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture through its cost-share programs that allows farmers to incubate startup companies’ technologies, allows farmers to become early investors, and creates model farmsthat demonstrate best practices and new technologies;
  • Continued expansion of the AgLaunch Farmer Network that represents more than 100,000 acres of a diverse group of crops and livestock; and
  • Grew our partnership with Farm Journal Media, the country’s leading agricultural media company, to increase our national media presence and participation at the AgTech Expo for AgLaunch startups, as well as build new regional innovation partners.

Additionally, Memphis and the surrounding region are rightfully being recognized for their agricultural assets and economic development tools. Seeing successful agtech startups like IndigoAg choosing downtown Memphis for its North American headquarters for commercial operations is the kind of activity that we can continue to expect as we invest in food and agriculture.

As we enter the new year, AgLaunch is

  • Expanding our regional farm-centric innovation model with new cross-state partnerships that put farmers at the foundation of growing new agtech companies and exploring value-added opportunities;
  • Recruiting more capital through increased alignment with the RBIC and Farm Credit system to help companies grow from idea to the farmer’s field;
  • Focusing on programs to help small farmers participate in value-added enterprises and embrace technology in new ways;
  • Partnering with schools and youth organizations to develop the next generation of farmers and ag entrepreneurs; and
  • Sharing data and testing protocols across the Farmer Network row-crop acres, livestock, and specialty crop operations to support startups and investors at a higher level.

As always, thank you for your support and partnership. Without you, 2018 would have looked very differently for us. We’re looking forward to a productive and innovative 2019.

Thank you,

Pete Nelson

AgLaunch December 2018 Newsletter

 

Friends,

As our farmers and partners have wrapped a long and late harvest, we’re reflecting on the last few months and the companies that we’ve had the privilege to support this fall and winter.
As part of our unique partnership with Farm Journal Media, we had an expanded presence at this year’s AgTech Expo held in Indianapolis, IN in December. The expo featured the inaugural Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge powered by AgLaunchthat showcased four cutting-edge technologies and very talented teams: Rogo (formerly AgNext), Kopper Kutter, SioTeX, and Smart Farm Systems. Ultimately, the panel of expert farmers selected Kopper Kutter as the winner.
Additionally, as part of the AgTech Expo, the four AgLaunch365 Phase I teams graduated by exhibiting at the AgLaunch booth and delivering their pitches on the expo stage. AgLaunch and its teams are supported by the following sponsors and partners: Innova Memphis, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Archer Malmo, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of America, Farm Credit Mid-America, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Baker Donelson, StartCo, Agricenter International, Ritter Agribusiness, Mid-South Family Farms, Growing Acres, and AgVentures Alliance. You can learn more about those teams here.
We believe that Memphis and the surrounding delta region is the place that can incubate and test the most disruptive agtech companies that exist. We see the agtech sector in the Memphis region growing quickly, and the Indigo Ag expansion is just another example of this.
Because we believe in the region, we were proud to partner with the Delta I-Fund, an organization supporting entrepreneurs located in the 252 counties and parishes in the Delta Regional Authority‘s service area. The Delta I-Fund’s most recent cohort is focused strictly on agtech teams, and we were glad to provide curriculum and expertise to the opening weekend held in Jonesboro, Arkansas in December, as well as being part of the ongoing technical assistance being provided to the teams.
The new year brings with it the chance to learn about new breakthroughs in research and technology. We’ve partnered with great organizations making some serious moves on the food and agtech front which are hosting events that you won’t want to miss.
Food and agriculture scientific breakthroughs will be on display at Foster Our Future. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, is hosting a food and agriculture research exhibition and discussion forum on February 5, 2019. At this one-day event, participants can interact with exhibits exploring research and attend discussions on scientific breakthroughs.
We will continue to work directly with teams through Phase II programming that will begin in January and culminate with the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in March. Mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss it!
We don’t want to leave this year without giving a special thanks to outgoing Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton. Commissioner Templeton has been a true champion of our work and believes deeply in the power of agricutlure and innovation in moving Tennessee farmers into the future. We are excited about the recent appointment of Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher and look forward to working together to continue to serve Tennessee farmers.
Thank you for your continued support, and please reach out if there’s anything we can do for you.
Cheers,
Pete Nelson

In the News
Read what others are saying about us, our teams, and our partners!

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: It’s the Little Things in Life that Count, July 12, 2018

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: GroGuru Conducts First Row Crop Field Trials on Its Precision Irrigation Monitoring Technology with AgLaunch Farm Network, August 16, 2018

AGLAUNCH: Future of Agriculture, Episode 117: Bridging the Gap Between AgTech Entrepreneurs and Farmers with Pete Nelson, September 5, 2018

PARTNER: The Seam Eyes Growth With New Personnel, Technologies, September 8, 2018

PARTNER: Growers Overcomes Challenge of Big Data in Agriculture, Raises $5M to Expand, September 12, 2018

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: Future of Agriculture, Episode 118: Autonomous, Swarm-Enabled Tractors with Zack James of Rabbit Tractors, September 12, 2018

PARTNER: Local fund invests $4M in farming startups, has $27M left in seed money, September 17, 2018

PARTNER: Organic crops boosted by Memphis tech star, September 18, 2018

PARTNER: Tractor Zoom, a Farm Equipment Auction Marketplace, Completes $1 Million Seed Round, September 21, 2018

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: Drone Targets Weeds With Precision, September 24, 2018

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: CRANBERRY COUNTRY: The eye on cranberry bogs, October 3, 2018

PARTNER: Agricenter approaching 40th anniversary, planning for future, October 8, 2018

PORTFOLIO COMPANY: New entity providing X-ray vision for growers, October 9, 2018

 

Upcoming Events

October 10, 2018
Tennessee Agriculture Leadership Forum
Murfreesboro, TN

October 16, 2018
World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit
London, England

November 13-14, 2018
Agri Investor Chicago Forum 2018
Chicago, IL

November 15, 2018
Life Science Tennessee Conference
Nashville, TN

December 3-5, 2018
Farm Journal AgTech Expo
Indianapolis, IN

News Release: INAUGURAL INNOVA $100,000 ROW CROP CHALLENGE POWERED BY AGLAUNCH CHOOSES NEW MACHINERY AS NEXT INVESTMENT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (December 12, 2018) — After pitching in the final four, selected from a group of national applicants, Kopper Kutter was voted by a panel of farmers as the winner of the first Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge powered by AgLaunch as part of the Farm Journal AgTech Expo last week.

Founded by three farmers in Kansas, Kopper Kutter makes ARRO™ (Alternate Rotary Rowcrop Option) head conversion kits for corn heads enabling harvesting of additional row crops including sorghum, milo, sunflowers, and millet, among others.

As part of the Innova Challenge, four new agtech startups competed for a chance to receive a $100,000 venture capital equity investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, a USDA certified Rural Business Investment Company whose investors are eight Farm Credit banks. Teams pitched their company in front of an expert panel of farmers who determined which team received the investment.

AgLaunch’s interactive exhibits at the show included the AgLaunch Startup Station, the Emerging Technologies Isle, and featured the Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge, as well as demonstrations from more than a dozen startup companies with innovations related to automation, robotics, soil analysis, input efficiency, new equipment, and farm management tools. These startups have received support from AgLaunch through various programs including the nationally-recognized AgLaunch365 accelerator and field trials through the AgLaunch farmer network. AgLaunch’s approach is yielding successful startup companies that are focused on the real needs of farmers.

Finalists for the Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge powered by AgLaunch were:

  • Kopper Kutter: Kopper Kutter, LLC offers ARRO®(Alternator Rotary Rowcrop Option) conversion kits for cornheads so that they can reliably harvest sorghum, sunflowers, and many other crops.
  • Rogo (formerly AgNext): The SmartCore by Rogo (formerly AgNext) uses a fully-autonomous robot that collects and packages soil samples with complete depth-, pattern- and location-consistency to give farmers more accurate soil data so they can make more profitable fertilizer decisions.
  • SioTeX: SioTeX is an eco-friendly specialty chemical manufacturer that makes a pure biogenic amorphous silica from rice hulls. Agricultural customers use the silica as a high-quality soil amendment to protect plants from mites, fungus, and stress and to increase crop yields.
  • Smart Farm Systems: Smart Farm Systems provides farmers with a precision irrigation monitoring and control system that allows them to apply just the right amount of water at just the right time on a field-by-field basis, conserving resources, improving crop yields and profitability.

AgLaunch showcased more than a dozen companies over the course of the expo at the AgLaunch Startup Station and in the Emerging Technology Isle including existing cohort companies: CattlogNewton RFIDShepherd, Soil Nerd, and alumni companies EarthsensePersistence Data MiningMicrobiometer, and Rantizo. These companies are being directly supported through on-farm trials with farmers supported through Tennessee Department of Agriculture, investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, and accelerator support as part of the AgLaunch365 program designed with farmers at the center of the work.

AgLaunch and its teams are supported by the following sponsors and partners: Innova Memphis, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Archer Malmo, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of America, Farm Credit Mid-America, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Baker Donelson, StartCo, Agricenter International, Ritter Agribusiness, Mid-South Family Farms, Growing Acres, and Ag Ventures Alliance.

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News Release: AGLAUNCH INNOVATION PIPELINE FEATURED AT FARM JOURNAL MEDIA’S AGTECH EXPO

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Start with a network of progressive farmers, add venture capital from Innova Memphis with the support of several Farm Credit banks and support from the forward-thinking Tennessee Department of Agriculture, coupled with the unparalleled outreach of Farm Journal Media, and you get the AgLaunch farm-centric innovation model that is reinventing the way agricultural startups are created and grown. Next week this partnership will be showcased on a national stage at Farm Journal’s AgTech Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 3-5.

AgLaunch’s interactive exhibits at the show will include the AgLaunch Startup Station, the Emerging Technologies Aisle, and will feature the Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge, as well as demonstrations from more than a dozen startup companies with innovations related to automation, robotics, soil analysis, input efficiency, new equipment, and farm management tools. These startups have received support from AgLaunch through various programs including the nationally-recognized AgLaunch365 accelerator and field trials through the AgLaunch farmer network. AgLaunch’s approach is yielding successful startup companies that are focused on the real needs of farmers.

As part of the Innova Challenge, four new agtech startups, selected from a national pool of applicants, are competing for a chance to win a $100,000 venture capital investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, a USDA certified Rural Business Investment Company whose investors are eight Farm Credit banks. Teams will pitch their company in front of an expert panel of farmers who will determine which team receives the investment.

Finalists for the Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge powered by AgLaunch are:

  • Kopper Kutter: Kopper Kutter, LLC offers ARRO®(Alternator Rotary Rowcrop Option) conversion kits for cornheads so that they can reliably harvest sorghum, sunflowers, and many other crops.
  • Rogo (formerly AgNext): The SmartCore by Rogo (formerly AgNext) uses a fully-autonomous robot that collects and packages soil samples with complete depth-, pattern- and location-consistency to give farmers more accurate soil data so they can make more profitable fertilizer decisions.
  • SioTeX: SioTeX is an eco-friendly specialty chemical manufacturer that makes a pure biogenic amorphous silica from rice hulls. Agricultural customers use the silica as a high-quality soil amendment to protect plants from mites, fungus, and stress and to increase crop yields.
  • Smart Farm Systems: Smart Farm Systems provides farmers with a precision irrigation monitoring and control system that allows them to apply just the right amount of water at just the right time on a field-by-field basis, conserving resources, improving crop yields and profitability.

“Next week we will be showcasing the successes we are seeing with our farmer network in Tennessee and the surrounding Delta region to a national audience in hopes of recruiting more farmers, increasing investment, and attracting new startups to the AgLaunch model,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch. “By addressing the needs of farmers and creating a pathway for them to participate in business deals with these companies, we are changing the way that agricultural startups are creating, growing, and building new opportunities for our communities.”

In addition to the four finalists competing in the Innova $100,000 Row Crop Challenge, AgLaunch will be showcasing more than a dozen companies over the course of the expo at the AgLaunch Startup Station (Booth #208) and in the Emerging Technology Aisle including existing cohort companies: Cattlog, Newton RFIDShepherdSoil Nerd, and alumni companies EarthsensePersistence Data MiningMicrobiometer, and Rantizo.  These companies are being directly supported through on-farm trials with farmers supported through Tennessee Department of Agriculture, investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, and accelerator support as part of the AgLaunch365 program designed with farmers at the center of the work.

AgLaunch and its teams are supported by the following sponsors and partners: Innova Memphis, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Archer Malmo, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of AmericaFarm Credit Mid-America, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Baker Donelson, StartCo, Agricenter International, Ritter Agribusiness, Mid-South Family Farms, Growing Acres, and AgVentures Alliance.

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About AgLaunch Initiative
AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all. AgLaunch leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.