AgLaunch365 Row Crop Challenge Accepting Applications Now

Applications close September 6, 2021

MEMPHIS, TN- July 15, 2021– Calling entrepreneurs and agtech startups! AgLaunch and Farm Journal are pleased to open applications for the third Row Crop Challenge to select leading startup companies addressing the biggest problems in production agriculture. The Row Crop Challenge will continue to focus on technologies that accelerate the adoption of sustainable production practices like regenerative soil health, water and nutrient management, labor and data management, improved efficiency in production, and traceability.

As many as 10 companies will be selected to participate in a live Row Crop Challenge sprint week held November 15-19, 2021 in Memphis, TN. Afterwards, teams will present their refined pitch to a panel of farmers and aligned investors to earn the opportunity to participate in the full AgLaunch365 Accelerator, a program designed to calibrate the needs of farmers with emerging technology.

Startups that are selected to participate in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator will work with the AgLaunch Farm and Entrepreneurship teams to design and implement field trials with diverse members of the AgLaunch Farmer Network. Qualified startups are eligible for equity investment from AgLaunch investment partners, Innova Ag Innovation Fund and AgVentures Alliance. In addition, teams accepted in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator will have access to media and data support through Farm Journal.

“This year’s challenge builds on the success AgLaunch has had in accelerating growth of startups like Rantizo, Continuum Ag, and Spornado,” Pete Nelson, AgLaunch’s Executive Director said. “With our Farmer Network and ag-experienced team, we are excited to work with a new cohort of entrepreneurs that can address the challenges facing farmers today. Startups we’ve worked with in the past tell us that our farmer-first focus and insight is critical to their success.”

AgLaunch’s unique multi-year model starts with the Row Crop Challenge, AgLaunch365 accelerator, and ends with a three-iteration on-farm trial pathway that takes ideas from proof-of-concept to peer-to-peer scale with targeted investor touch points along the way. AgLaunch365 operates in three phases over a 12-month period, ramping towards on-farm trials across the United States. Phases include:

Phase I– Row Crop Challenge: Participants receive support services to refine their startup’s value proposition and to prepare to pitch to row crop farmers and agricultural investors through a virtual pitch competition.

Phase II– AgLaunch365 Accelerator: A panel of innovative farmers and investors choose up to six startups to participate in this phase beginning January 2022. Startups will construct in-depth field trial plans while fine-tuning their business model.

Phase III– On-Farm Trials: The balance of 2022 is dedicated to implementing on[1]farm trial plans with the AgLaunch Farmer Network. Participating startups typically work directly with the AgLaunch agronomy team and farmers for three iterations of their technology and have exclusive access to farmer input and feedback.

Participants in AgLaunch365 will have access to the following services:

– Customized programming focused on agriculture and lean startup;

– Exclusive access to Farm Journal;

– Field trials and a farmer network made up of leading innovative farmers including cost share opportunity;

– Support from a national network of mentors and service providers;

– Opportunity to showcase their technology at an investor-focused demo day in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show and a producer-focused event at Top Producer Summit.

– Qualified startups are eligible for equity investment from AgLaunch investment partners, Innova Ag Innovation Fund and AgVentures Alliance.

Startup companies can learn more about the Row Crop Challenge and AgLaunch365 Accelerator by registering for an informational webinar on July 27 at 12 p.m. CT or August 12 at 12 p.m. CT.

Applications are being accepted through September 6. Start-up companies who are interested in the AgLaunch365 accelerator can apply here.

AgLaunch Expands Entrepreneurship Team

AgLaunch is excited to announce the expansion of their Entrepreneurship Team. Building off the success of the annual AgLaunch365 Accelerator program, AgLaunch is bringing on an expert group of agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship experts to expand their offerings for entrepreneurs.

AgLaunch is known for a unique, farm-centric approach to innovation. In addition to offering traditional acceleration resources such as business strategy coaching, mentorship, and funding, AgLaunch also works with a network of more than thirty early-adopter farmers who collaborate with entrepreneurs to trial and scale new technologies. Now, in addition to the current accelerator and bootcamp offerings, AgLaunch is expanding its programming to support innovators working in robotics and livestock, as well as diverse founders across the region to support ag entrepreneurship within underserved communities.

“We’re bringing on an all-star team to take our entrepreneurship offerings to the next level,” said AgLaunch Executive Director, Pete Nelson. “Their combined experience is a perfect mix to support our current portfolio companies and build out new programming to connect up-and-coming entrepreneurs with mentorship, capital, and opportunities to trial and scale their innovations with our farmer network.”

Margaret Oldham, a long-time consultant for AgLaunch, will be coming on full-time to lead the team as Director of Entrepreneurship. Margaret has deep roots in agriculture that began on a family dairy farm and has extensive experience bringing agricultural innovations to market in animal health, crop protection and specialty segments.Throughout her career she has successfully consulted with corporations like Elanco Animal Health and FMC, as well as startups like Rantizo and Indigo Ag. Margaret will lead the AgLaunch expansion of entrepreneurial programming  into livestock and robotics, in addition to delivery of farmer network education and support efforts to increase founder and farmer diversity in AgLaunch programs. 

Working closely with Margaret will be Lilly Tench, who is joining the AgLaunch team as Entrepreneurial Programs Lead. Originally from Berea, Kentucky and a Berea College graduate, Lilly spent four years working for an environmental non-profit in New York City before she joined the startup team of New Lab, an innovation hub built in a transformed ship-building facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She then worked with entrepreneurs through a cleantech accelerator based out of the Columbia University Technology Transfer Office. Lilly has an MBA and MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Allan Daisley will round out the team, serving as Entrepreneur in Residence. Allan is an entrepreneur, investor, and innovation and commercialization specialist. He has expertise in healthcare and information technology and was the co-founder of Memphis-based ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator. Allan will be working with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation teams to support the AgLaunch accelerator programming and the development of the Data Commons and the Open Market Consortium.

2021 AgLaunch Bootcamp Winners Announced

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 6, 2021) – Seven innovative startups have been selected to participate in a 3-week virtual bootcamp hosted by AgLaunch, the Knoxville Entrepreneur CenterSync Space, and The Biz Foundry. The chosen teams are ag innovators who are interested in growing their agricultural innovation business in a farm-centric model.

“I’m excited about the cohort we have this year; we’ve got a great mix of promising technologies and a talented group of founders,” said Jim Biggs, Executive Director of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.  “Building on the long-standing partnership between AgLaunch, KEC, Sync Space and the Biz Foundry, our Bootcamp allows us to introduce these startups to a wide variety of resources and expertise. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress the companies make during the three-week program.”

Participating teams will receive instruction on agricultural markets and the framework for organizing and communicating their ideas. They will also have access to best-in-class investors and mentors and the chance to apply for the AgLaunch365 accelerator.

This year’s teams include: 

Agreed – Agreed is accelerating the transition to regenerative agriculture by taking the experimentation out of optimization through gamified digital twins. Agreed maps farmers to CPG brands to increase farmer profitability and guarantee sourcing for sustainability-marketed products.

Agriwater Corp – Agriwater addresses environmental sustainability for farmers by monetizing off-grid wastewater treatment and pollution control.

GrowinLocal – GrowinLocal is a platform that empowers and enables users from all socio-economic backgrounds to grow, purchase and exchange locally grown produce, meats and house-hold necessities in a hyper local virtual marketplace.

Hempitecture – Hempitecture manufactures and distributes hemp-based building materials including their batt insulation product, HempWool®. These materials are safer, easier to use, and have a lower embodied carbon footprint than conventional building products. 

Innatrix – Innatrix is developing eco-friendly biological products to control critical crop diseases, using a patented protein evolution platform.

Open Agriculture Systems & Integrated Supply (OASIS): Oasis is an accessible, open-source platform for precision agriculture and industrial automation.

Susterre – Susterre is pioneering the use of ultra-high pressure fluid jet technology for row crop planting and seeding applications. Susterre’s technology promotes the adoption of no-till farming and cover crops, lowering the cost of farming while improving soil quality and preserving the earth’s natural resources.

Building off the success of the partnership between the four organizations last year, AgLaunch sees the collaboration with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Sync Space and The Biz Foundry as essential to reach and support agtech innovators in the Mid-South region. The 2021 AgLaunch Bootcamp Pitch Night will be held on July 27th from 6-8pm CT (7-9pm ET), you can register for the event here.

LeafTech Ag


Spornado


Global Neighbor


Grain Weevil


ReEnvision Ag


2020 AgLaunch Field Day Goes Virtual! Plus! A New Look!

AgLaunch 2020 VIRTUAL Field Day | PLUS! A New Look!

The 2020 AgLaunch VIRTUAL Field Day will highlight the farmers, entrepreneurs, and communities that are working together to make the agricultural value-chain more sustainable and resilient, while also demonstrating that a strong network of farmers is positively impacting rural and urban communities from health care to education.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

  • 9:00 – 10:15 AM | AgTech + Sustainability Goals
  • 12:00 – 1:30 PM | Data + Ecosystem Markets + Capital
  • 3:00 – 4:15 PM | Communities + Impact

Learn more at AgLaunchFieldDay.com.

Attendees are encouraged to participate in the entire day, but you will have access to the session recordings in case your new normal makes that impossible. Register Now, Watch Later! 

And did you notice our new logo? We’re going to be rolling out our new look as we prepare for the field day. Be on the lookout for new videos, images, and ways we’re highlighting our work. 

Connie Bowen to Lead Innovation Strategy for AgLaunch

Bowen joins as the Director of Innovation and Investment, spearheading crucial projects related to building a transformed regional food and agricultural economy  

AgLaunch is proud to formally announce the recent addition of Connie Bowen as its Director of Innovation and Investment. In this role, she will be providing strategic and technical expertise on key initiatives such as the Data Commons, Farmers Fund, and Open Market Consortium, as well as joining the leadership team managing AgLaunch’s investment strategy and portfolio support.

Bowen’s expertise and experience are a great addition to the AgLaunch team. Prior to joining AgLaunch, Bowen worked in Willamette Valley, Oregon with Farmacopia Farms and Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners, assisting in the production, processing, and marketing of hemp, hazelnut, and blueberry products. Prior to that, she co-founded the Yield Lab Institute in St. Louis, and she continues to serve on YLI’s board. Before starting the Yield Lab Institute, she served as a Principal for the Yield Lab North America and Cultivation Capital, where she managed accelerator programming, deal flow, and portfolio and aided in firm expansion into Ireland, Argentina, and Singapore. She continues to engage actively as an Investment Manager for the Yield Lab Europe (based in Galway, Ireland.) Prior roles also include Operations Manager for Grape Arbor VC, a multi-family office investing in startups and venture funds.

Bowen is a regular contributor to Forbes, writing about impact investment in agrifood systems. She is a 2016 Venture for America fellow and a multi-year member of the peer-elected VFA alumni board as well as a member of the inaugural “AgGrad30under30” class. She holds a B.S. in General Engineering, with an emphasis on Environmental Studies, from Swarthmore College.

Connie can be contacted at cbowen@aglaunch.com.