Ag Industry Brief: Israel, China in $300m Agtech Deal, Mistletoe CEO Launches Indian Agtech Accelerator, Protix Acquires Insect Breeder, more

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Israel and China Strike $300m Deal to Bring Agtech East

Israel and China have signed a $300-million trade agreement to facilitate the export of environmentally-friendly Israeli technology to China. A statement from Israel’s finance ministry said the agreement “allows the two sides to expand bilateral economic activity into other environmental-friendly technologies, including advanced agriculture technologies and smart and green energy technologies, which the Chinese government wants to implement using Israeli experience and expertise.” Read more here.

Billionaire Starts Early-Stage Food and Ag Fund in India

Japanese billionaire Taizo Son has created a food and agriculture investment vehicle and incubator in India in partnership with the GSF Accelerator. The new effort will be named “Gastrotope” and will reportedly focus on impacting the food system at both ends. “The KPIs (key performance indicators) of startups in the Gastrotope program will be related to the strength of their products and the value they bring,” said Son to Tech in Asia. Read more here.

Protix Acquires Insect Breeding Company Fair Insects

Protix, a Netherlands-based insect farming and fish and livestock feed company has acquired Fair Insects, a consortium of breeders growing mealworm, crickets, and locusts. According to Protix, the acquisition will allow the company to serve a wider spectrum of customers from B2B to food markets with protein-rich foods, meat replacements, and health beverages. Read more here.

CropLogic Debuts on the ASX

New Zealand in-field IoT provider CropLogic (CLI) listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on September 12. The company raised its target of A$8 million ($6.4 million) in a fully-subscribed share offer last month. It issued 40 million ordinary shares at 20 Australian cents (USD$0.16) per share with $5 million of the capital underwritten by Hunter Capital Advisors. On the date of its debut, the stock dropped 23% to A$15.5. Read more here.

Benson Hill Hires Serial Entrepreneur for VP Position

Computational biology startup Benson Hill Biosystems (BHB) has hired Brian Gilman as vice president of business development. Gilman has co-founded and led multiple companies, most recently exiting Wingu, a healthcare and biotech IT company. BHB launched a new gene editing tool this week to provide an alternative to existing tools, including the high-profile CRISPR Cas9 that has taken the science world by storm in recent years as a speedy and efficient means to edit genetic characteristics in crops, animals, and more. Read more about Gilman here.

Western Growers and S2G Launch “Shark Tank” Style Pitch Contest

Farmer cooperative Western Growers has partnered with S2G Ventures to launch AgSharks, a new pitch contest for startups in the fresh produce industry. The AgSharks showcase event will premiere at Western Growers 92nd Annual Meeting in Las Vegas on October 31, 2017. Successful entrants will compete for equity investments totaling up to $250,000. Selected entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts, including the AgSharks, who will decide on the spot whether and how much to invest. The entrepreneurs must then accept the offer, negotiate or decline. Learn more here.

Hampton Creek Gets a New Board and a New Patent

The alternative protein startup that deserves its own reality show has put in place a new board of directors that includes a Saudi prince and a DuPont alum after the last one walked out, reports Tech Crunch. The company has also obtained a patent on its automated process of identifying useful plant proteins, which reportedly uses robotics, proprietary plant databases, artificial intelligence and predictive modeling. Read more here.

Agrilyst Hires CTO from Fintech

Indoor agriculture agronomy software platform Agrilyst has hired Jon Dayton as its new chief technology officer. Before joining Agrilyst, Jon served as the Director of Engineering at Vestorly, a platform combining artificial intelligence and content marketing for the financial services industry. Read more here.

THRIVE Global AgTech & FoodTech Accelerator Accepting Applications

Food and agriculture accelerator THRIVE Global is now accepting applications for its spring cohort. The accelerator works with seed and growth stage companies to commercialize and scale high-impact technologies in the global food and agriculture markets. Technology categories include big data and analytics, robotics and automation, connected devices, cloud services/SaaS, novel farming systems, biotechnology, e-commerce, and food traceability. THRIVE provides $100,000 in funding per team for 5% equity and hosts a 10-week accelerator program covering business, marketing, and legal webinars taught by leading Silicon Valley firms and THRIVE corporate partners. Learn more here.

Tech Accel Grants $60k to Study Sprayable RNAi Tech

TechAccel, the Kansas City-based venture development organization, has awarded the first grant under its “Path to Commercialization” program at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO. The $60,000 grant will fund a project to demonstrate a sprayable technology to apply RNA interference (or RNAi) technology in a biopesticide targeting the Diamondback moth, which attacks cruciferous vegetable crops like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • The first ever cannabis ad, for a cannabis-focused law firm, ran on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other networks this week. This is the first time the word “cannabis” has been spoken in a national ad, says Leafly.
  • Cannabis delivered by drone is not gonna happen after California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control says no, reports the LA Times.
  • Kraft Heinz’s new CFO is 29 years old and worked the Kraft Heinz merger from the private equity side, according to Fortune.
  • The largest food company in the world, Nestle, has acquired San Francisco high-end coffee brand Blue Bottle Coffee, reports the New York Times.
  • The world’s largest fruit company, Dole, might be for sale and the price may be $2 billion according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Newly formed DowDuPont is changing its plans to split into three separate entities in anticipation of activist investor objections, says Reuters.
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