Meet the Startups Seeking to Change Farming
Not all high-tech entrepreneurs are urban.
Five agriculture-related startups from East Tennessee will join in a 12-week business accelerator program this summer, beginning with a July 18 kickoff party at Sizzle TechStart, 487 Sam Rayburn Parkway in Lenoir City.
The 6 p.m. party will include dinner, refreshments, and “a brief introduction of the program and teams,” according to a news release. Registration is free at www.eventbrite.com/e/agworks-launch-party-tickets-35765989036.
“The event is open to the general public; however, we have primarily focused marketing on individuals within the agriculture industry,” Stephen Jenkins of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center said via email. “Our outreach included farmers, UT extension agents, UTRF, ag-entrepreneurs, etc.”
The entrepreneur center is co-hosting the party with AgLaunch, an initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture which seeks to boost 100 new farm-oriented startups by 2022.
The accelerator program is called AgWorks, and is funded by Launch Tennessee, USDA and Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Its first five participants are:
- Grow Bioplastics, which makes a biodegradable plastic that can be plowed under after use;
- Cattle Market Mobile, which compiles federal commodity data for farmers;
- Geo Air, which uses drones to make heat maps of mold “hot spots” in crops;
- Tomboy Organic Skincare, which makes organic skin care products and makeup from regional plants; and
- Urban Valley Farms, which makes protein powder from crickets as sustainable and inexpensive food.
The business accelerator program will feature development sessions, mentorship, workshops, and investment access help through AgLaunch, according to the news release.
Sizzle TechStart is in a renovated farmhouse in Roane Regional Business & Technology Park. Sam Weaver, founder of Proton Power Inc., created the business-launch center there in 2015, in the same building where Proton Power started in 2007. Grow Bioplastics is already a tenant.