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  • Foodbytes Austin

What our Innovators are Reading Right Now

Posted on September 11, 2017 09:32 AM by WGCIT

Exclusive: 20 Startups Make the Cut for FoodBytes! Austin

AgFunder News, Emma Cosgrove

This will be the first FoodBytes! competition in Austin. Agriculture and supply chain startups have faired particularly well in this year’s competition.

AgVoice, a voice-interaction service designed to help food and agriculture professionals capture valuable insights to optimize their use of resources won the judges choice aware at FoodBytes! New York in June. At the same event, Impact Vision, a software platform that uses hyper-spectral technology to provide insights about the quality and characteristics of different foods using image recognition and predictive learning won the people’s choice award.

Earlier this year at FoodBytes! San FranciscoPure Cultures, a company creating probiotics for pet and livestock health, claimed the Highly Commended award. Also in San Francisco, Evaptainers, a startup developing electricity-free refrigeration for developing markets, snagged the People’s Choice Award, an accolade voted on by the audience.   


Western Growers, S2G Ventures launch AgSharks event

The Packer, Ashley Nickle

Agricultural technology startups will pitch to a six-person panel of investors and growers at new Western Growers event AgSharks.

A nod to the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” AgSharks will feature new companies getting feedback about their business plans and having to decide on the spot whether to accept, negotiate or decline offers of investment in exchange for equity.

Up to $250,000 total may be invested, and growers may offer acreage for use in pilot programs.

The live event takes place Oct. 31 in Las Vegas at Western Growers’ annual meeting.


Deere to buy agtech company Blue River for $305MM

Business Insider, Roopal Verma in Bengaluru

Sept 6 (Reuters) - Deere & Co, known for its trademark green tractors, said on Wednesday it would acquire privately-held Blue River Technology for $305 million to increase the machine-learning capabilities of its farm equipment. California-based Blue River has designed technology that helps farmers reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present, optimizing the use of inputs in farming, Deere said in a statement.


What Does It Cost To Start A New Farm?

Fast Company, Ben Schiller

The average age of an American farmer is now 58.3–a number that’s been increasing for three decades. About 40% of farmers are 65 and over. And fewer younger people are entering the profession than ever before. The last census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the number of “new farmers” (defined as being on the job less than 10 years) fell by about 20% between 2007 and 2012.

While many young people are attracted to working the land and giving up dizzy-making urban lives, they’re also likely put off by prohibitively high startup costs. That’s according to Shawn Williamson, an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri, who recently carried out an in-depth analysis of what it would cost to set up a farm from nothing. The answer: an amount of money that makes the idea of creating a more robust independent farming economy seem impossible.


9 AgTech Startups Using AI to Grow Smarter


Without a Trace: A community of good and bad microorganisms inhabit soils just like they do the human gut, which is called the microbiome. San Francisco-based Trace Genomics, founded in 2015, produces kits for farmers so they can test the health of their soil microbiome. The agtech startup has raised $4 million in one early stage round to date. The company says it applies AI techniques similar to those used in fraud detection to ID the good microbes from the bad. Its screening products retail at $199 and up.


Finistere Plants Investment Seed in Ireland With $24M Agtech Fund

xconomy.com, Frank Vinluan

To date, Finistere’s agtech investments include indoor farming startup Plenty, a South San Francisco, CA-based company that recently closed a $200 million Series B funding round to build a global network of sites, and ZeaKal, a San Diego agbio company researching ways make photosynthesis more efficient. Last year, the firm joined with Kinston, NC-based International Farming Corporation to form the agtech investment fund Willow Hill Ventures.

Kukutai says Ireland’s experience in dairy makes the country fertile ground for developing animal health technologies. He adds that innovations in fintech and other technological fields could be adapted for agricultural applications. The Ireland Agtech Fund will make seed-stage investments in agtech companies, as well as Series A investments and follow-on funding. Kukutai adds that some of those investments could be made with other venture capital firms, or in conjunction with Finistere’s main fund. That $150 million fund closed in 2015, drawing investment from companies such as Bayer CropScience. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund is now also pumping $23.7 million into that fund.

With the launch of the new Ireland fund, Finistere will open a satellite office in Dublin. Kukutai says he expects the fund will make its first investment by the end of this year.


AgSharks to swarm over investment opportunities at Western Growers meeting

The Produce News

Western Growers has partnered with S2G Ventures (Seed 2 Growth) to launch AgSharks, a new initiative to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry. The AgSharks showcase event, sponsored by S2G will premiere at Western Growers 92nd annual meeting in Las Vegas on Oct. 31. Successful entrants will compete for equity investments totaling up to $250,000 to support the development and growth of their businesses.