News Release: AgLaunch and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Will Continue Their Partnership to Support Field-Trial Projects

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (June 29, 2020) — AgLaunch is proud to announce their continued partnershipwith the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) to support field-trial projects with farmers and AgTech companies.

The three-year agreement between AgLaunch and TDA allows AgLaunch to continue developing their Farmer Network and Model Farms. Tennessee farmers who participate in on-farm scale trials of new technology initiatives have the potential to enhance educational outreach, create rural jobs and new investment opportunities, and leverage significant private sector investment. Model farms will help increase farm income by encouraging expansion, improvement, and diversification while highlighting best practices to be shared with other growers in the state and beyond. 

“Tennessee farmers remain on the cutting-edge stage of new technologies in agriculture thanks to AgLaunch,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “The products used in these trials could very well become the future of the agriculture industry.” 

The following field-trial projects have been confirmed for Summer 2020: 

• Ag BioTech – A company that uses biological-based solutions to help farmers make informed decisions about the crops they develop. They will test the efficacy of bioshot and bioseed products, especially as it relates to quality and yield, at Norwood Farms in Henry County. 

• Continuum Ag – A company that quantifies and improves soil health by integrating diverse soil data into an online platform. They will measure the efficacy and results of Continuum’s TopSoil tool against the traditional grid soil sampling approach. They will work with Growing Acres and Karl Forsbach Farm in Hardin County and Sneed Brothers Farm in Tipton County.

• Lepidext – A company working to suppress adult moths through corn earmworm pest control. They will test the efficacy of moth sterility in corn and cotton. The trials are part of a multi-state strategy for trailing the organic biocontrol method for minimizing corn earworm and cotton bollworm. They will work with Mid-South Family Farms in Lauderdale County, Sneed Brothers Farm in Tipton County, and D&J River Farms in Lincoln County.

• Growing Acres – An organization focused on developing, strengthening and inspiring local food culture. They will test new sorghum varieties for agronomic and nutritional properties in service of a food-grade sorghum industry in the Tennessee River Valley. These trials will be held in Hardin and Shelby Counties. 

• Rose Creek – A company focused on piloting technologies to facilitate more sustainable and economic production of vegetables. This farm, which is in its third trial year, will work to increase tomato yields grown undercover on Rose Creek Farm in McNairy County. This farm has novel tools for small-scale, intensive vegetable production, which allow season extension and yield improvements for high-value crops. It will serve as a model farm for other Tennesseegrowers to replicate. 

• GroGuru – An organization that is revolutionizing soil and irrigation management for agriculture through a monitoring system. They are in their third year of trial using predictive software to better inform irrigation decisions in corn, beans and sorghum. They are working on Norwood Farm in Henry County and Growing Acres in Hardin County. 

• EarthSense – A robotics and machine-learning startup that is currently providing robots to breeders to help them create better crop varieties faster by getting more accurate trait data from field trials. This company, in its third trial year, is focused on an increased agronomic understanding of cotton. They are using farms across the state but based in Lauderdale County with Mid-South Family Farms.

• Nori – A platform that makes it easy for farmers to get paid for storing carbon in their soils. This is a farmer-first carbon market that is developing new profit streams for farmers.

• Shepherd – An organization that is building tools to help growers everywhere get more done, faster and easier than ever before. In its second year for trial, Shepherd is developing a farm labor tool for row crop farms, tailoring the Shepherd app for small scale vegetable farms. They are working with Rose Creek Farm in McNairy County. 

Three of these companies – Continuum Ag, Lepidext, and Nori – are new to field trials. A panel of farmers chose these companies during the Row Crop Challenge at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo in December of 2019. In addition to support from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, these companies are also directly supported by an investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund and AgVentures Alliance. 

Most of these trials will be conducted in Tennessee counties with economic challenges.  

Applications Open for 2020 Food and AgTech Bootcamp

Applications Due June 21

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (June 9, 2020) — AgLaunch, the Knoxville Entrepreneur CenterSync Space and The Biz Foundry are partnering to offer a 5-week virtual bootcamp to develop promising agriculture and food-focused startups. Applicants should be innovators who are interested in growing their agricultural and food startups and working directly with farmers or local food businesses. The bootcamp will be held in half-day sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 7-August 6, 2020 from 2-5 pm EST (1-4 pm CST). Teams accepted into the program will experience best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming with engagement from members of the AgLaunch Farmer Network, as well as a national network of investors and mentors. 

Companies from across the globe that provide competitive advantages or new market opportunities for row crops, vegetable and specialty crops, livestock, and value-added production in food and beverage and are interested in partnering with farmers and businesses in Tennessee based on the unique nature of Tennessee’s agriculture sector are encouraged to apply.Eligible teams do not have to be located in Tennessee and can include:- New startups focused on agriculture;- Faculty/student teams commercializing ag-related technology; and- Existing agriculture companies exploring new innovation.


“We are excited to be partnering with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for the fifth year and new partners Sync Space and Biz Foundry to help develop potential startups,” Pete Nelson, Executive Director of AgLaunch, said. “We’re hoping that this bootcamp will give participating teams the opportunity to gain the resources and support they need to be successful in the agriculture industry, particularly for our farmers in Tennessee.” 

Participating teams will receive agricultural entrepreneurship programming through AgLaunch connected with business expertise from KEC, Sync Space and Biz Foundry on agricultural markets, investors and mentorship; the framework for organizing, validating and communicating their ideas; and the opportunity to perfect their pitch. Teams will also gain consideration for Innova venture funding and participation in the AgLaunch365 program. 

Applications are being accepted through midnight EST on June 21, 2020. Entrepreneurs with an idea or an agtech startup who are interested in the intensive bootcamp can apply here

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About AgLaunch
AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch was formed through a joint initiative between Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Memphis Biowork Foundation. AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Innova, Start Co., TN Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Mid-America, Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson. 

About Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
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. 

About Sync Space
Sync Space is launching the first regional business accelerator in Northeast Tennessee that connects entrepreneurs and startups who have products or services that can benefit from our region’s assets or whose product offering can be a solution to a challenge facing our region. With partners and industries that can offer mentorship, opportunity for investment, and pilot program opportunities, our accelerator programs can help startups be successful in Northeast Tennessee and beyond.

About The Biz Foundry
The Biz Foundry is Upper Cumberland’s entrepreneur center. We are a non-profit located in the heart of downtown Cookeville with new locations opening in Sparta and McMinnville in the coming months. We believe that entrepreneurship and cooperation are intrinsic to economic and community vitality, so we work to foster that vitality in Upper Cumberland. 

Row Crop Challenge Chooses Six Startups for Investment and Field Trials

Selected startups will be deploying in-field trials with Tennessee farmers in 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (December 19, 2019) — After pitching in Tuesday’s AgLaunch Row Crop Challenge at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo, a panel of farmers and investors have chosen six startup companies to participate in the AgLaunch365 accelerator and to receive investment from Innova Memphis and Ag Ventures Alliance.

The AgLaunch Row Crop Challenge winners are:

  1. Agrynex: A Cornell University startup, Agrynex packs and deploys antimicrobial systems for efficient crop protection with fewer chemicals.
  2. Continuum Ag: Continuum Ag quantifies and improves soil health by integrating diverse soil data into the online platform, resulting in actionable results.
  3. Lepidext: Lepidext is revolutionizing corn earworm pest control with an organic method for suppressing adult moths.
  4. Nexyst360: Nexyst360 is a mobile solution for crop storage and transportation. We provide high-quality crops with full traceability to field of origin and date with the crop.
  5. Nori: Nori is a platform that makes it easy for farmers to get paid for storing carbon in their soils.
  6. Sigma0: Sigma0 enables crop management companies to access agronomic insights from radar technology, enabling them to zero in on crop details and provide better decisions for farmers.

“We are excited about the caliber and vision of these teams, and their capacity to totally transform the future of row crop agriculture,” said Schuyler Dalton, Director of Farmer Network and Entrepreneurship at AgLaunch.

In addition to receiving investments, these companies will spend four weeks in Memphis, refining their business strategy and planning for summer field trials with AgLaunch’s Farmer Network. These companies will be directly supported through on-farm trials backed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV and AgVentures Alliance. They will also receive accelerator support as part of the AgLaunch365 program, designed with farmers at the center of this commercialization pathway.

Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, a $31 million, USDA-certified Rural Business Investment Company backed by eight Farm Credit banks, is based in Memphis and invests in early-stage agtech startups headquartered in rural locations across the country. Ag Ventures Alliance is an Iowa-based and nationally recognized farmer-owned organization focused on increasing farm profitability and income. Ag Ventures Alliance finds ag-tech investment opportunities for farmers, makes early-stage investments in technologies and facilitates a farmer network that pays farmers to test new technologies on their farms.

AgLaunch alumni teams were also highlighted at AgTech Expo as part of the Emerging Tech Aisle. Companies such as Rabbit Tractors, Earthsense, Telesense, Shepherd, RxMaker, GroGuru, and Rantizo were featured on panels and on the exhibit floor.

AgLaunch and its teams are supported by the following sponsors and partners: Innova Memphis, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, StartCo,
Agricenter International, and Ag Ventures 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.

AgLaunch and Farm Journal Announce 9 Cutting-Edge Startups for Row Crop Challenge

The 9 Row Crop Challenge startups were in Memphis for a week preparing for AgTech Expo and participation in AgLaunch365 programming.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (November 19, 2019) — Nine early-stage agtech startups focusing on row crop innovations were in Memphis last week preparing for Farm Journal’s AgTech Expo in Indianapolis in December. Teams spent five days in Tennessee refining their value proposition, meeting with leading
farmers and agricultural industry experts, and improving their pitches for the Row Crop Challenge at AgTech Expo.

“This is the ideal environment for up-and-coming agricultural technologies,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “AgLaunch is at the forefront of developing and supporting
companies that will positively influence the future of agriculture. We look forward to seeing the impact of these companies as they advance from concept of product to reality on the farm.”

Finalists for the Row Crop Challenge were selected using a panel of farmers from across the country as part of the AgLaunch Farm-Centric Innovation Model and are each addressing an identified problem in agriculture. AgLaunch’s model, catalyzed and supported by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, aims to position farmers to be competitive in a changing global marketplace.

The 9 startups accepted for the Row Crop Challenge are:

  1. AgBio Tech: AgBioTech provides high-value products that work symbiotically to reduce production costs, improve soil health, and increase profits for the farmer.
    Location: Lakeville, NY
  2. Agrynex: A Cornell University startup, Agrynex packs and deploys antimicrobial systems for efficient crop protection with fewer chemicals.
    Location: Ithaca, NY
  3. Continuum Ag: Continuum Ag quantifies and improves soil health by integrating diverse soil data into the online platform, resulting in actionable results.
    Location: Washington, IA
  4. Grain Discovery: Grain Discovery creates a chain of trust for the next generation of global ag marketing by focusing on price discovery and traceability.
    Location: Toronto, Canada
  5. Lepidext: Lepidext is revolutionizing corn earworm pest control with an organic method for suppressing adult moths.
    Location: Lexington, KY
  6. Nexyst360: Nexyst360 is a mobile solution for crop storage and transportation. We provide highquality crops with full traceability to field of origin and date with the crop.
    Location: St. Cloud, MN
  7. Nori: Nori is a platform that makes it easy for farmers to get paid for storing carbon in their soils.
    Location: Seattle, WA
  8. Row Shaver: Row Shaver has developed ag implements to help control herbicide-resistant weeds.
    Location: Great Bend, KS
  9. Sigma0: Sigma0 enables crop management companies to access agronomic insights from radar technology, enabling them to zero in on crop details and provide better decisions for farmers.
    Location: Des Moines, IA

At the AgTech Expo in December, Row Crop Challenge finalists are competing for up to 6 spots in AgLaunch365 programming beginning in January 2020 and $75,000 in venture capital investment and
startup support services valued at over $125,000.

“These startups have access to AgLaunch’s Farmer Network, best-in-class partners, and renowned accelerator model, all serving as a unique platform for commercialization and the leading pipeline to get an agtech product from idea to market- all right here in Memphis,” said Schuyler Dalton, Director of Farmer Network and Entrepreneurship.

The AgLaunch365 programming and investment package includes:

  • Venture capital funding from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV and Ag Ventures Alliance;
  • Access to the AgLaunch farmer network, which provides cost-share supported field trials with leading farmers and access to field-level data;
  • Opportunity to participate in the Digital Acre program at Agricenter International;
  • Agricultural-focused accelerator program with Start Co.;
  • Access to data and market information from Farm Journal;
  • Marketing and communications support from Archer Malmo, a top 5 US agricultural marketing company;
  • Legal support from attorneys with Baker Donelson, one of the largest law firms in the country; and
  • Investor Demo Day and demonstration at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis on February 28-29, 2020.

Questions can be emailed to innovation@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. AgLaunch has been designated as a Regional Innovation Cluster by the Small Business Administration, the only one focused on production agriculture.

About Farm Journal
Farm Journal is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 142 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors
through branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; business magazines; events; nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile text marketing business; and an array of data-driven paid information products. Farm Journal also is the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace, Machinery Pete LLC. In 2010, the company established the non-profit, public charity Farm Journal Foundation dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment.

New Release: AgLaunch and Farm Journal Seek Cutting-Edge Startups for Row Crop Challenge

Up to 10 Startups will be invited to pitch to leading U.S. farmers and will become eligible for AgLaunch365 – including access to investment, field trials, and data.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (September 4, 2019) —Early-stage agtech startups focusing on row crop innovations can now apply for a chance to pitch their idea before a national audience of leading farmers, retailers, farm advisors, and agronomists at Farm Journal’s 2019 AgTech Expo and compete for $200,000 worth of development services and investment from AgLaunch and partners.
“If your early-stage startup company is seeking to get a foothold into US row crop agriculture, there is simply no better opportunity than this approach,” said Schuyler Dalton, Director of Entrepreneurship and Farmer Network at AgLaunch. “In our fourth year of programming, withmore than two dozen companies through our programs, AgLaunch and our farmers have
optimized the best way to get from idea to the field, and ultimately to scale.”

The 10 startups accepted for the Row Crop Challenge will:

  • Receive one week of startup support services to refine the startup’s value proposition and prepare to pitch to row crop farmers and agricultural investors;
  • Showcase their companies at a highly visible 20×20 exhibit on the floor at Farm Journal’s AgTech Expo; and
  • Pitch during the evening reception to a panel of farmers and agricultural investors to be one of the 6 startups selected for participation in AgLaunch365 – a $200,000 value comprised of investment capital and services.

“This is a leading opportunity to help early-stage startup companies in agriculture and give unprecedented and curated access to leading farmers,” said Doug Catt, VicePresident of Row Crops at Farm Journal.

Up to 6 startups pitching at AgTech Expo will be offered a spot to participate in AgLaunch365, which will start in January 2020 and includes $75,000 venture capital investment and startup support services valued at over $125,000.

AgLaunch365 programming and investment package will include:

  • Venture capital funding from Innova Ag Innovation Fund and Ag Ventures Alliance;
  • Access to the AgLaunch farmer network, which provides cost-share supported field trials with leading farmers that includes access to field-level data;
  • Opportunity to participate in the Digital Acre program at Agricenter International;
  • Agricultural-focused accelerator program with Start Co.;
  • Access to data and market information from Farm Journal;
  • Marketing and communications support from Archer Malmo, a top 5 US agricultural marketing company;
  • Legal support from attorneys with Baker Donelson, one of the largest law firms in the U.S.; and
  • Investor Demo day and demonstration at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis on February 28-29, 2020.

To be eligible to participate in the AgLaunch and Farm Journal Row Crop Challenge, startups must be addressing an identified problem in row crop agriculture, be seeking to participate in AgLaunch365 programming 2020, currently have or are willing to have a farmer engaged directly
in the business, and be located or willing to locate in a rural area in the United States.

The application deadline is October 1, 2019, but applications will be evaluated as they are received. Accepted teams will be notified by October 15, 2019 and will be expected to spend November 11-15 in Memphis to prepare for AgTech Expo and participate in stage and demo-floor
activities at AgTech Expo on December 16-17 in Indianapolis.

Questions can be emailed to: innovation@aglaunch.com
The deadline to apply is October 1, 2019.

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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 Farm Journal
Farm Journal is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 142 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors through branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; business magazines; events; nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile text marketing business; and an array of data-driven paid information products. Farm Journal also is the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace, Machinery Pete LLC. In 2010, the company established the non-profit, public charity Farm Journal Foundation dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment.

NEWS: Four Startup Companies Participating in AgLaunch Bootcamp

2019 AgLaunch KEC Bootcamp Cohort

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 9, 2019) — Four innovative startups have been selected to participate in the AgLaunch and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center agtech bootcamp this week being held on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville. This is the first of two bootcamps AgLaunch will host as part of its Small Business Administration’s Regional Innovation Cluster Award. These teams represent innovations in the food and agriculture sector demonstrating next-generation approaches to creating sustainable farming systems of the future.

“We are proud to partner with AgLaunch and KEC on this event expanding UTIA’s role in providing interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial approaches to solving agriculture’s biggest problems through supporting the creation of new Tennessee companies,” said Dr. Tim Cross, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

Participating teams will have access to world-class mentors, entrepreneurial support, and most importantly, farmers and industry leaders. This year’s cohort of teams include:

  • Better Nature
    The philosophy of Better Nature is to increase sustainability of urban and agricultural habitats through utilization of integrated pest management, basic ecological phenomena, and a suite of microbes that love and live with plants.
  • Foresight Chemistry
    Foresight Chemistry is currently developing a scalable approach to produce lectins and glycans from natural feedstocks to unlock the potential of targeting proteins toward creating biological-based agricultural inputs.
  • Sustainable Fermentation Systems
    A patent-pending device and process involving the recycling of fermentation off-gas for greenhouse CO2 enrichment, resulting in increased crop yields and productivity.
  • Plow & Barrow
    Plow & Barrow is a plant-based agrarian life and wellness company that provides ready-to-go plant-based meals, experiences and services to offer a holistic approach to human health.

This is the second year that KEC, UTIA, and AgLaunch have partnered to host this intensive bootcamp. Building off of the recent Small Business Administration’s Regional Innovation Cluster Award announcement, AgLaunch sees this continued work with KEC and UTIA as vital to support early-stage companies in the Mid-South region. This year’s itinerary includes one-on-one counseling with entrepreneur experts, alumni teams, and companies involved in emerging markets and crops.

“This cohort is unified around the concept of creating a full life-cycle in agriculture from soil health to human health, capturing emissions, and growing healthier plants,” said Pete Nelson, Executive Director of AgLaunch.

“The partnership with AgLaunch allows KEC to offer a world-class program to serve a crucial industry to the development of rural and urban Tennessee,” said Jim Biggs, Executive Director, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

The general public is invited to participate in the bootcamp by meeting the teams, learning more about AgLaunch, KEC, and UTIA, and networking with other agtech experts at the following event:

Bootcamp Keynote Luncheon
Friday, July 12, 2019 | 12:00 – 1:30 PM
UT Institute of Agriculture, 2506 River Dr., 136 Brehm Animal Science Building
RSVP HERE

After seven days of hard work, the AgLaunch Bootcamp startups will have the opportunity to demo their progress to a public audience. The luncheon will feature a keynote address by Karen LeVert, co-founder & CEO of Ag TechInventures (AgTI).

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.

About Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center

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.

NEWS: Applications Open for SBA Innovation Bootcamp for Food and AgTech Startups

Applications Due June 28

JONESBORO, Ark. (May 20, 2019) — AgLaunch is partnering with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Arkansas State University to host a week-long agri-tech bootcamp to support agriculture startup teams as part of its Small Business Administration’s Rural Innovation Cluster award. The bootcamp will be held at A-State’s Delta Center for Economic Development from July 22-26, 2019. The top ten applicants will be accepted into the program and will experience best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming and have access to investors, mentors, and farmers.

“We are excited to be partnering with AgLaunch and Arkansas State University to bring services and support to agtech startups in Arkansas and the Delta region. Building up companies that create opportunities for farmers is essential as the industry continues to adopt new technologies,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “We know innovation exists in the region, and we look forward to seeing results from this program.”

Eligible applicants 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.

“We know the Mid-South can be the best place in the United States to create the farms of the future and supply the products that consumers are demanding,” said Dr. Tim Burcham, Dean of Arkansas State University College of Agriculture. “Engaging with early-stage agtech companies allows us to grow the amazing food and agriculture opportunities in Arkansas and the region.”

This bootcamp complements existing AgLaunch programming through AgLaunch365 and the AgLaunch Farmer Network. The AgLaunch Farmer Network is a group of farmers from across the region who are testing new innovations and creating new marketing approaches. One of AgLaunch’s leading Farmer Network partners is Ritter Agribusiness, a 32,000-acre farm based in the eastern Arkansas town of Marked Tree that provides a diverse landscape on which tech startup companies can test their farm innovations in fields like precision agriculture, robotics, biologic-based pest control and supply chain integrity. AgLaunch will be seeking to partner with other Arkansas farmers in the network. The Farmer Network is intentionally focused on recruiting a variety of farm sizes, crops and livestock. Members are eligible to participate in field-scale trials with collaborating agricultural startups.

Building on its current programming, AgLaunch recently received a Small Business Administration Regional Innovation Cluster Award, the first one focused on production agriculture and startups. Bootcamp programming and assistance 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 partners like A-State’s College of Agriculture, Agricenter International, Archer Malmo, Innova Memphis, and others.

Applications are being accepted through 5 pm CST on June 28, 2019. 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.

About Arkansas Agriculture Department
The AAD is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.

About Arkansas State University College of Agriculture
Over the past 100 years, A-State has evolved from a regional school of agricultural instruction to a comprehensive university. The College of Agriculture has also evolved throughout the years. While education is still our primary mission, we also have extensive public outreach programming and research activities. We prepare our graduates for entry and career advancement in the food, fiber, and natural resources industry, which involves production (farming), agribusiness and value-added processing, public service and rural leadership; and for entry and advancement in the manufacturing and industrial technology industries. We offer both undergraduate and master’s degrees within the college, and we participate in doctoral education through the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences and Molecular Biosciences programs.

About Delta Center for Economic Development
The Delta Center for Economic Development is the community and economic development outreach center for Arkansas State University. Along with its in-house partners, the A-StateInnovation System, the Small Business Technology Development Center, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, and Communities Unlimited, the Delta Center helps communities in the Arkansas delta find their paths to prosperity by providing technical assistance, research, and training.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Kaufman
rkaufman@aglaunch.com

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.