Ag Industry Brief: Food & Agtech Business Competitions and Accelerators Gather Pace, more

June 23, 2017

It’s Time for the 2017 Census of Agriculture!

Hey, farmers: make sure your voice is heard and your operation counted in the USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture. This includes unconventional and urban farmers. Why take the time to fill out the survey? The US Ag Census appears to be the only complete count of US farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It includes even the smallest plots of land – rural or urban – growing fruits, vegetables, or raising food animals, if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. Get more info and fill your survey out here.

CanopyBoulder Seeks Applicants for Upcoming Accelerator

Are you a cannabis-related startup? CanopyBoulder wants to help you take your brand to the next level with up to $80,000 in seed funding. Read more about the program here, but be sure to apply by July 4. The company is also hosting a Live Entrepreneur Q&A next week on June 28th at 11am MDT to discuss what it describes as the potential $25B+ growing industry and where the opportunities lie for startups and seed-stage businesses—Sign up here.

Here are the FoodBytes! NYC Winners:

Get the full rundown here, but in the meantime check out the top three winners of Rabobank’s FoodBytes! NYC competition:

  • Judge’s Choice Award: AgVoice, a startup capturing, transcribing and reporting farmers’ insights on the farm through hands-free voice recordings.
  • People’s Choice Award: ImpactVision, a startup that is working to promote transparency in the food system through hyperspectral imaging technology using a software platform that provides insight about the quality and characteristics of different foods.
  • Highly Commended Award: Proud Pour, a startup that creates what it describes as sustainably-grown and vegan wines. It also allocates some of the sales to promoting environmental stewardship.

Nestle Has Joined Rabobank’s Terra Food + Ag Accelerator

Famous candy maker Nestle has launched a food and agriculture company accelerator in partnership with Rabobank called Terra Food + Ag Accelerator. For its first run, the program will select around 20 startups to participate in two separate six-month programs. Read more here.

Pepsi Incubator Finalists Feature Insect Snacks, Seaweed Protein, and more

Pepsi recently revealed the eight finalists of its PepsiCo Nutrition Greenhouse program, which launched in April. Each finalist will receive nearly $28,000 and a chance to work with PepsiCo for six months to expand their company. The program was launched to help identify new choices in the healthy snack space. Here’s a sneak peak of three lucky companies and you can read more here:

  • Jimini’s, which developed an edible insect-based snack bar.
  • Divingmar, which concocted a variety of seaweed that has flavor-enhancing protein potential.
  • Tåpped, a bottled birch water producer.

Agri-Tech East Announces GROW Business Plan Winners

Lifting sub-Saharan farmers out of poverty by creating a market for their surplus and a water sensor that can create moisture maps from the air were the two winning business plans at GROW, a UK-based agritech business plan competition. GROW was developed by Agri-Tech East to stimulate and support entrepreneurship in agriculture and horticulture. The GROW Judges’ Award went to Farming Data, a mobile trading platform that uses mobile money and SMS texting on a basic phone to allow smallholders and buyers to communicate and trade more effectively. The audience choice was SoilSense, an aerial soil sensor which the company claims can provide a detailed map of moisture content of the soil—even through vegetation—for a whole farm in minutes. The proprietary technology was first developed for detecting breast cancer tumors.

Kirchner Food Fellowship Announces Investment in Vertically Integrated African Agriculture Company 

The Kirchner Food Fellowship has invested in Tomato Jos Inc., which works with local farmers to grow tomatoes that are processed into paste for the Nigerian market where tomato paste is a staple product with an estimated $600 million market. Tomato Jos was founded in 2014 to address the significant waste of tomato harvests in a country which is also the world’s largest importer of tomato paste according to Kirchner. The outfit also added the former president of Mexico, the CEO of one of the largest private agricultural research institution in USA, and a former Federal Office of Management and Budget to its Board of Advisors for the Kirchner Food Fellowship program. 

TechAccel is Expanding to St. Louis, Missouri

Kansas-based agtech venture development organization TechAccel is opening an office in St. Louis at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. The venture firm targets opportunities in agriculture and animal health innovations. Read more about the move here.

Dow-DuPont Merger Receives US Regulatory Approval

A proposed $130 billion merger between Dow and DuPont received approval from US regulators recently. As part of the approval, each company will be required to divest certain crop protection products and assets. Read more about the approval and what’s next for the newly born behemoth of an ag company here.

Delivery Hero Poised to Battle with Uber and Amazon in IPO

Delivery Hero’s IPO will offer 39 million shares that could collect $1.1 billion for the Berlin-based company, which tees the company up nicely to contend with major tech giants beginning to dabble in the takeaway space like Uber and Amazon. Operating in 53 countries and employing around 6,000 folks, the company reported placing 197 million orders during 2016. Read more here.

Blue Apron IPO to Raise $586m, Valuing the Meal Kit Startup at $3bn

While we’re on the subject of IPOs, meal kit company Blue Apron will price its IPO within a range of $15 to $17 per share for a total anticipated raise of somewhere around $586 million, valuing the company at $3 billion. The IPO is slated for June 28 according to some reports.

Hey Bezos, Annie’s CEO John Foraker wants you to End Food Deserts by 2027

You can read Foraker’s guest post and message to Bezos here. Alice Waters, a revolutionary chef that invigorated her restaurant’s cuisine with local, seasonal, and organic fare, also penned a short note to the Amazon CEO.

European Patent Office Rejects Challenge to PlantLab’s Patent

Earlier this week, vertical farming operation PlantLab defended its European patent before the European Patent Office in Rijswijk, Netherlands. Major global lighting products maker Philips Lighting and greenhouse technology company Certhon Build filed an opposition to the European patent, which the European Patent Office rejected as unfounded. The patent covers PlantLab’s fully closed plant nursery system, which it describes as providing significantly improved production. Recently, PlantLab has also registered its patent in Japan, China and Canada. That brings the total number of countries where the patent is registered and recognized to 73, reports the company.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Scotland is getting ready to open its first vertical farm in fall, reports Scotsman.
  • Cheers to George Clooney, whose tequila company is being acquired for up to $1 billion, reports FoodDIVE.
  • IKEA wants to halve its food waste tally by 2020, reports Reuters.
  • President Trump is touting the benefits of precision Ag in Iowa, reports Agri-Pulse.
  • There’s been lots of buzz about the Amazon-Whole Foods deal, but what could it mean for minimum wage workers? Forbes investigates.
  • While we’re on the subject, there have also been reports that Amazon is hoping to strip Whole Foods of its bourgeoisie image, says Bloomberg.

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