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Ag Industry Brief: Rabobank’s Terra Accelerator Opens, Two New Agtech Competitions Launch, Scotts Acquires Majority of AeroGrow, more

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Rabobank and RocketSpace Open Applications for Terra Accelerator

Rabobank and RocketSpace’s accelerator program Terra is now open for applications through January 18, 2017, under three themes: consumer-focused, industrial agtech, and food & science. The duo also announced that flavors and fragrances company Givaudan and one of Mexico’s largest sugar producers Grupo Azucarero México would be corporate collaborators in the program. Startups need to have a product in the market or be close to its launch, preferably have some seed funding, and be willing to travel. Selected startups will work from RocketSpace’s tech campus in downtown San Francisco and have access to a commercial kitchen. The program will last eight weeks and consists of a tailored curriculum to help guide the evolution or participants’ products and real-time feedback throughout pilot testing. The program will culminate in a pitch event. No financial equity is required to participate. Apply here.

Future Food Asia Award Calls for Agritech & Foodtech Startups in the Asia Pacific Region

ID Capital, an investment and consulting firm headquartered in Singapore, has launched the Future Food Asia Award (FFAA). Supported by the Economic Development Board of Singapore, this Award is the first of its kind dedicated to agriculture and food technology startups in the Asia Pacific region. FFAA will select the most promising startups in the region who place sustainable development at the core of their business proposition. The Grand Prize winner of FFAA will be awarded $100k. The award is open to pre-Series A startups in Asia, with at least $500k in seed money and which plan to raise between $2 million or more in the next 18 months. The competition opens in January 2017, and the award will be granted in May 2017. For more details, click here.

Nutreco FeedTech Challenge Hopes to Offer Ultimate Test for Breakthrough Innovations

Animal nutrition and aqua feed company Nutreco has launched the Nutreco FeedTech Challenge, which aims to ask startups one question: ‘What is your breakthrough innovation – that CANNOT wait?’ Nutreco is looking for folks who want to help realize sustainable food production for a growing world population. The Nutreco FeedTech Challenge offers a ‘greenhouse & pressure cooker’ environment aimed at identifying, nurturing and enriching high potential concepts in pilot or proof-of-concept phases. Over a competition period of two months, contestants will participate in an online platform where entries are open for comments, discussions and contributions from others. The winner receives a unique prize in the form of a scientific on-farm validation trial in one of Nutreco’s research farms.

CropLogic Makes First Strategic Acquisition in the US

CropLogic, a predictive decision support system for growers based in Christchurch, New Zealand, has acquired a North-West USA-based agronomy services company. According to a statement from CropLogic, the signed company, to be named in due course, is well known and highly regarded both in the North West region and in the USA agricultural services industry and has a long and proud trading history. “This acquisition ticks many boxes for us and both parties are excited about the plans for the upcoming few years, and we consider it demonstrates CropLogic’s ability to execute the Company’s international growth strategy,” said CropLogic CEO Jamie Cairns in the press release.

Scotts Picks Up Majority Share of Hydroponics Company AeroGrow

Scotts Miracle-Gro continues to make big forays into the hydroponics and indoor ag world. The major company acquired an 80% stake in AeroGrow, a Boulder-based company that develops, markets, and sells indoor garden systems. This more than doubles Scotts’ ownership from the 31% it owned previously. The company borrowed $6 million from Scotts last year.

EPA Releases 2017 Renewable Fuels Mandate

The EPA has released the 2017 renewable fuels mandate standard, setting the corn ethanol requirement at 15 billion gallons in accordance with the statutory mandate. This drew a round of applause from the corn producer trade groups and lawmakers from corn-growing states. In previous years, the EPA has chosen to set the standard below the statutory requirement, drawing heaving criticism from pro-ethanol folks. You can read the EPA’s announcement here.

China Hits the Brakes on Clearing Biotech

Although leaders in Beijing had previously expressed their desire to create a smoother approval process for crops produced using biotechnology, Secretary Vilsack released a statement last week calling out China for stalling on making real progress. “We are disappointed that further progress was not made on agricultural biotechnology issues during the 27th JCCT. The focus of this JCCT was on the implementation of prior commitments,” said the Agriculture Secretary. “Although China has made some progress, it has not fully implemented commitments on agricultural biotechnology that it made to the United States which date back as far as September 2015. Those commitments still stand and the United States expects their full implementation.”

Nestle May Have Found a New Tech to Cut Sugar without Compromising Taste

Nestle is seeking a patent for a new technology that it claims can cut the caloric content of its sweet treats without compromising taste. According to the largest food company, its researchers found a way to restructure sugar crystals so that it can use less sugar in its chocolate products. It hopes to use the new sugar in 2018. The endeavor is part of the company’s pledge to cut its sugar content across its product portfolio by 10%.

Canadian Government Invests $425k Into Precision Agriculture

The Canadian Government has announced a $425k investment into Clean Seed Agricultural Technologies, a company in British Columbia that develops precision ag equipment aimed at streamlining on-farm operations. The company will use the funding to boost its research efforts into a new device that will allow farmers to control as many as six products at the same time. The technology is aimed at reducing the unnecessary application of pesticides and fertilizer while keeping other input costs like fuel low.

Greenease App Designed to Help Consumers Vet Restaurants’ Sustainability

A new app from Greenease hopes to tap into 70% of consumers’ desire to know where their food was farmed and 72% of consumers’ desire to purchase locally grown goods. The app allows consumers to search for restaurants and cafes that source directly from local and/or sustainable farms. They can also search using unique criteria like grass-fed meat, organic, sustainable seafood, and free-range. Out of 1,800 businesses currently listed on the app, almost 40% include their farms or purveyors. There are also hyperlinks for the farms so consumers can see the faces behind their food.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Bird flu continues to wreak havoc as 190,000 ducks were killed across six farms in the Netherlands last week, on Reuters.
  • Here’s Modern Farmer’s Fall Food Policy Review: Trump, Soda, and Weed: Your November Food Policy Round-Up
  • Chipotle is facing a lawsuit alleging that it mislabeled the calorie counts on some of its menu items, on The Daily Intake.
  • A foodbank in Canada has opened an on-site aquaponics farm, on CBCNews.
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