WG 2.0
The WGCIT Agtech Blog

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LETTER FROM HANK GICLAS: WG Center for Innovation & Technology - A Year of Growth and Change

Posted on November 02, 2016 14:51 PM by WGCIT

Dear Sponsors and Residents,

Western Growers’ Center for Innovation & Technology® (WGCIT) officially opened its doors eleven months ago, and the impact the Center has had on the community and the industry has been significant. The Center currently houses 23 start-up companies, who are all working individually and collaboratively to develop innovative solutions to the biggest challenges facing agriculture. These innovators specialize in a range of technologies including farm management software and aerial imagery for agricultural management to energy efficiency and advancements in soil science and nutrients.

In addition to the support of the Center’s 16 sponsors, key Western Growers champions have helped the WGCIT become a brand name in the Salinas Valley and Silicon Valley, as well as in the agtech realm. When the Center first opened, Lisa Dobbins was engaged part time as WGCIT’s Consulting Manager to help build a solid foundation for the Center in the local region and agtech community. In that role, Lisa helped develop relationships with budding entrepreneurs, represented Western Growers at numerous agtech conferences and hosted countless tours through the Center.

Her efforts contributed to nearly two dozen startups joining the Center and several new sponsors for the Center. Lisa also helped develop and launch the Center’s programming for residents which includes events and activities that focus on training, mentorship and prominent networking opportunities with leading fresh produce companies. We thank Lisa for her contributions to the WGCIT and Western Growers. In the next two weeks, Lisa will be completing her contract with us and will be moving on to the Grower Shipper Association Foundation to run the AgKnowledge program. We are thrilled to have had Lisa and are excited that she will continue to be a key player in the agtech ecosystem.

As the WGCIT’s first year comes to a close, we are proud to announce that we will accelerate our momentum by working with Dennis Donohue, former mayor of Salinas. Donohue will devote full-time attention to the growth and development of the WGCIT, as we position to become the premier agtech startup incubator. Donohue will drive agtech initiatives, bolster innovation programming, further facilitate relationships between start-up companies and growers and spearhead business development at the Center.

Donohue has been lauded for his leadership in agriculture where he has a played a significant role in creating innovative business models, identifying new technologies and developing initiatives that integrate agtech and innovation into the business structure at organizations such as Cultiva Global, European Vegetable Specialties/Royal Rose and Fresh Express Farms. Additionally, his dedication to the community and region are unmatched. Donohue’s strong civic commitment includes his leadership as Salinas’ Mayor from 2006 to 2012 and serving on governing boards at the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, Salinas Chamber of Commerce and Steinbeck Innovation Foundation.

We look forward to next year, as we continue to accelerate the development of innovative technologies and help ensure specialty crop agriculture remains strong and vital!



Hank Giclas

Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Science & Technology
Western Growers