elemental excelerator

Elemental Excelerator Provides Up-to $1m to Startups Tackling Our Biggest Agriculture Challenges

February 27, 2019

Elemental Excelerator, a non-profit funder of agriculture, water, energy, mobility, and circular economy startups, is accepting applications for its 8th cohort.

The growth-stage accelerator fills a capital gap for startups that exists between pilot and commercialization. It selects 15-20 startups each year and provides up to $1 million to deploy transformational projects, and $100,000 to startups who are refining their go-to-market strategies. The deadline for applying is April 12.

“Elemental Excelerator provides an incredible opportunity to accelerate the deployment of your technology,” says Naveen Sikka, CEO of TerViva. “We joined Elemental Excelerator four years ago, at a critical juncture when we needed to validate our technology at a larger scale. Without that funding and guidance and rooting in the agriculture ecosystem, I don’t think we would have figured out how our technology needed to evolve to be successful. They are incredibly smart investors who know that agriculture is very much about the communities you’re working in.”

Who should apply?

Elemental seeks growth-stage startups from anywhere in the world that have secured Seed to Series C+ funding, employ a minimum of two full time employees, and have a working prototype or business model that improves food resiliency, slows emissions associated with the agricultural sector, and reduces global constraints on natural resources.

“To protect our planet, we must accelerate the deployment of technologies that deliver sustainable solutions quickly and at scale,” said Elemental Excelerator CEO Dawn Lippert. “We’re looking for promising startups with talented founders and leadership teams to tackle the world’s most pressing agriculture and food challenges.”


Elemental’s portfolio consists of startups focused on commercialization. Here are a few examples:

  • Ceres Imaging, which utilizes aerial spectral imagery to provide farmers with insights about their crops and recently raised $25 million in Series B financing. As part of Elemental Excelerator’s Demonstration Track, Ceres is working to deploy their imaging-as-a-service with over 4,500 acres of pineapple, coffee, and macadamia nut trees in Hawaii, with the goal of reducing water use and costs for the farming operations.
  • TerViva, which is transforming distressed agricultural lands into productive sources of protein with a high yielding oilseed tree crop called pongamia. Elemental Excelerator worked with TerViva and landowners in Hawaii to plant more than 10,000 pongamia trees that have the potential to produce 276 tons of plant protein and absorb more than 500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
  • PastureMap, which is connecting data through the supply chain to achieve a triple bottom line: 1) traceable, healthy beef that’s better for consumers, 2) profitable rancher and farmer livelihoods, and 3) building soil carbon and healthy grasslands. Elemental Excelerator is funding the development of the first regional soil health data-sharing network starting with 11 ranches in the Central Valley of California.

Enterprises interested in deploying projects in Hawaii, California’s low- to moderate-income communities, and Asia Pacific are encouraged to apply. In particular, Elemental is interested in funding a new piece of a company’s technology, a new business model angle, or an entry into a new geographic territory. Its funding is designed to buy down the risk of trying something new that will be transformational for a company.

What types of solutions is Elemental Excelerator looking to fund?

In the agriculture sector, Elemental is working to address the lack of food resiliency and rising greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production, distribution, and disposal. Ideas that can help tackle those problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Tools to increase local food production
  • Sensors, automation, and vertical farming
  • Food safety, quality, and traceability tools
  • Protein alternatives
  • Sustainable, high-quality inputs and alternative feeds
  • Soil management technologies
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for the ag sector
  • Healthy food alternatives with a focus on affordability, education and outreach
  • Workforce development in the agriculture sector
What makes Elemental Excelerator different?

Elemental’s model is unique among tech accelerators. In addition to coaching and strategic partnerships, Elemental also co-funds and co-designs project deployments with portfolio companies using a “place-based” model of innovation that unites startups, industry partners and local communities to identify challenges and deploy innovative solutions.

“Innovation happens at the community level, and change only happens at the pace of trust, which is why we focus on developing projects collaboratively with diverse stakeholders,” said Lippert. “By building trust at the local level, we help startups scale faster and large organizations innovate faster – while ensuring that people from all backgrounds are included in and benefit from the innovation economy.”

What does Elemental Excelerator offer startups?

Elemental does not require relocation to participate, and funds companies in three tracks:

  • Demonstration — Up to $1 million for scalable project deployments in Hawaii and Asia-Pacific
  • Equity & Access — Up to $1 million for companies expanding access to clean innovations for disadvantaged communities in California
  • Go-to-Market — $100,000 for companies in search of product/market fit

In addition to funding, Elemental provides companies with access to a wide swath of potential customers — including large landowners, suppliers, and distributors — as well as government, business, and philanthropic partners. Its ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, and experts help companies succeed while generating meaningful environmental and social impact.

Since 2013, Elemental has allocated more than $30 million to 82 companies (seven of which have been acquired) that have raised more than $550 million in follow-on funding. It has funded 59 demonstration projects to date in Hawaii, California, and Asia-Pacific.

How can I apply?

To take the first step toward receiving up to $1 million in funding and joining the other 82 companies in Elemental Excelerator’s portfolio, take five minutes to fill out a qualifying application. All companies that complete the qualifying application between now and April 12 will also be eligible for Elemental Excelerator’s Deal Day on May 14th.

**This post was sponsored by Elemental Excelerator through the AgFunder Network Partner program. Find out more here.

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