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.

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.

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