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AgLaunch Announces 2017 Accelerator Companies

Ernst Undesser
From a Press Release May 9, 2017

AgLaunch Announces 2017 Accelerator Companies

More than 125 ag startups from across the globe expressed interest in the 2017 AgLaunch Accelerator, many of which were referred by leading venture capital groups and farmer organizations. Ultimately, three startups were chosen based on their stage of business, product development lifecycle and need to access the local agricultural ecosystem.

AgLaunch is pleased to announce these companies will participate in the Summer of Acceleration programming in Memphis:

  • Microbiometer (Englewood, NJ): Microbiometer is a rapid on-site soil testing tool that measures microbial mass. This means soil health can be assessed quickly and inexpensively, compared to traditional assay methods.
  • Persistence Data Mining (San Diego, CA): Using proprietary UAV technology, Persistence Data Mining rapidly develops soil nutrient maps over large tracts of farmland. These maps dramatically improve the efficiency of automated fertilizer applications by providing more detail than traditional soil sampling methods.
  • Kilimo (Cordoba, Argentina): Kilimo provides a decision support tool for irrigation management in broadacre agriculture. Using satellite, climate, and on site data, Kilimo feeds their proprietary Big Data engine to make the best possible irrigation prescription for each crop.

AgLaunch Accelerator invests $50,000/team and three months of intensive business development support, access to farm trials and a robust mentor network to up to six startup companies every year. Funding is provided by Innova Memphis, a Memphis Bioworks-founded early stage venture capital firm focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the bioscience, medical, agricultural and logistics fields.

Participating startups will be immersed in a collaborative Summer of Acceleration experience in Memphis with six other business accelerators May 1- August 10. Entrepreneurial programming is supported through the expertise of EPIcenter and Start Co., a member of the Global Accelerator Network that has led more than 80 startup companies. Startups will also have access to expert agri-marketing and legal advice provided by Archer Malmo and Baker Donelson respectively.

“In its second year, AgLaunch continues to expand its farm-centric innovation platform to accelerate the process of bringing new ideas into agriculture,” said Steve Bares, Ph.D., president and executive director, Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

“The organization offers a one-stop shop for researchers, farmers, logistic providers, processors, non-profits, investors and corporate partners to help validate and grow new ideas in the agricultural space. Memphis provides the perfect opportunity to connect with all these assets in our unique geographical location allowing for incredibly diverse agriculture opportunities.”

“The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is proud to collaborate with AgLaunch to invest in innovative companies that are advancing agriculture,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton. “By matching entrepreneurs with farmers in a farm-focused model, AgLaunch helps fine-tune innovations faster to ensure a higher success rate in solving global problems such as water and nutrient management.”

AgLaunch Accelerator alumni have benefitted from this intensive program by receiving both entrepreneurial and agricultural resources that meet their unique needs as well as post-accelerator support.

“We were coached and mentored by very skilled professionals on how to run a business and be true entrepreneurs in this business category,” says AgLaunch Accelerator alumni Umer Adnan of Cowlar, Inc. maker of a smart collar for cows. “We feel like we are better entrepreneurs because of the experience.”

The AgLaunch Accelerator not only focuses on building entrepreneurs, but offers agriculture expertise, incubator type resources and a strong ag specific network. Paired with the natural resources of the Delta region, the AgLaunch Accelerator has the power to help launch the right startups into successful businesses.

“While working from downtown Memphis, startups will have access to a wide variety of entrepreneurial resources and services,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch. “Yet entrepreneurs will be able to easily access farmland from their workspace, as AgLaunch is uniquely combining the startup world with the innovation and expertise of farmers.”

In addition to the 2017 accelerator teams, several teams that are further along in their business or product development cycle are participating in the AgLaunch Farmer Network. This AgLaunch program coordinates farm scale trials with new technologies across various production environments and key crops grown in the MidSouth region that includes six major commodities: corn, soybeans, cotton, rice, grain sorghum and wheat. Lead members of the Farmer Network include Ritter Agribusiness and Mid-South Family Farms.

Ernst Undesser
From a Press Release May 9, 2017