Are you an agtech entrepreneur looking for a little capital to take your idea to the next level? Alexandria LaunchLabs – AgTech is looking for early-stage startups to compete in an expenses-paid, in-person pitch competition in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Details are still being finalized, but the pitch competition will take place in May, Blake Stevens principal at Alexandria Venture Investments and the new head of its agtech arm, told AFN.
The winning contestant will receive a $75,000 cash price and a one-year membership to LaunchLabs’ world-class facility with state-of-the-art amenities and company-building support valued at $25,000. A panel of judges made up of investors in the agtech venture community, strategic partners from larger ag chem companies, and experienced entrepreneurs will choose the lucky winner.
“The main piece of the application is a pitch deck,” Stevens says. “That’s the best way to evaluate a company at these stages. It’s most important for companies to present a business plan and their technology clearly in the pitch. If you spend any extra time on the application, which is relatively short, focus on the pitch deck.”
LaunchLabs is looking for applicants innovating in the following categories:
- Crop enhancement and protection
- Digital and data solutions
- Animal health
- Breeding and genetics
- Next-generation farming and food
- Supply chain solutions
“We’ve tried to define our six topics within agtech as broadly as we can. We are looking across the entire sector and we know great innovation is happening everywhere,” Stevens explains. “We have a handful of metrics we are looking for within each category: quality of the science, quality of the team, quality of the business plan, the impact of the prize, and the impact on the regional agtech community.”
LaunchLabs is hoping to foster a longterm relationship with the lucky winner and is open to possibilities that may arise with other contestants in terms of investment. Stevens already anticipates engaging with some of the applicants and finalists on potential investment activity even if they aren’t chosen as the winner. Stevens reports that they’ve already received applications from “coast to coast,” signaling that it may be a tight race.
If you have questions about the contest, Alexandria is hosting an optional Q&A session via Webex on January 23, 2020, at 2 pm EST. RSVP at the bottom of the webpage to reserve your spot.
What is LaunchLabs – AgTech?
Opened in April 2019, Alexandria LaunchLabs is a startup platform for early-stage life sciences and agtech companies located at the Alexandria Center for AgTech – Research Triangle in North Carolina. The facility is also home to UPL, Indigo Ag, and Boragen. LaunchLabs provides move-in-ready office and laboratory space, shared equipment and services, creative amenities, and access to capital through its Alexandria Seed Capital Platform. Construction hasn’t stopped there. The second phase of the campus will feature a 160,000 rentable square feet development project at 9 Laboratory Drive.
There are currently four agtech companies in residence at its RTP facility. Stevens remained mum about their identities out of respect for companies operating in stealth mode. Alexandria is actively looking for new residents.
LaunchLabs’ offering comes with more than just space, according to Stevens. The entity takes care of many pesky day-to-day things like permitting and waste disposal on the lab side and providing a network of resources to assist resident companies with questions around everything from HR to financial modeling.
“A third aspect is putting these earlier stage companies in the real estate pipeline. Real estate is constrained especially lab space. Growing from LaunchLabs to larger real estate can provide the next step up in terms of space and the next step up after that.”
LaunchLabs offers its space and services as a rent transaction and does not take any equity as part of the deal. If it becomes interested in making an investment in a company, that happens separately.
Currently, Alexandria LaunchLabs maintains offices in New York City, Cambridge, Research Triangle, and is opening new campuses in Seattle and on the Columbia University Medical Campus this year.