Farmers, Food Waste, and CRISPR: What to Expect from This Year’s Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis

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The 2016 Ag Innovation Showcase will take place next week in St. Louis, Missouri. As one of the oldest agtech conferences in the US, the event aims to accelerate early-stage innovation in agtech. The event provides startups with the opportunity to test out their pitches in front of fellow innovators, corporations, government agencies, and researchers.

For the eighth round of this annual event, 20 companies will present across multiple technology categories including precision ag and automation, ag inputs and diagnostics, alternative systems for food and feedstock, and taking technologies to or from developing economies.

A number of California companies innovating across all of the categories will take part in the showcase such as Fresno-based Outpost Central, which offers a soil moisture monitoring system using cellular IoT, and Salinas-based Food Origins that’s also tapping IoT and SaaS to improve productivity on all aspects of the farm including the farmers.

Two panel discussions will take center stage during the second and third days of the event. The first panel will discuss gene editing and the challenges that it faces as the technology develops further for agriculture. Rachel Haurwitz, CEO and president of Caribou Biosciences, will participate on this panel, along with Neil Gutterson, VP of R&D at DuPont Pioneer. Roxi Beck, director of The Center for Food Integrity will provide the consumer perspective while Deepti Kulkarni, an attorney at law firm Sidley Austin, will speak about CRISPR’s current and future regulatory landscape.

The second panel focuses on eliminating and addressing food waste throughout the entire food value chain. Christine Moseley, founder & CEO of food waste startup Full Harvest will provide the entrepreneur perspective while Joanie Taylor, consumer affairs and community relations director at Schnuck Markets will speak about retailers’ experiences. Dan Morash, founder of food waste-based fertilizer product maker California Safe Soil will also share his company’s experiences with innovating in the food waste arena, while AgFunder’s own cofounder and CIO Michael Dean will share insights about the investment landscape for this growing segment.

This year, the keynote speech will be provided by several farmers who will share their “Views from the Farm.” The theme is intended to give attendees a better glimpse into what day-to-day life is like for the men and women who produce our food and fiber and the various challenges that they face. The keynote speakers hail from three very diverse sectors of agriculture, including a Midwest commodity farming, western specialty crop producers, and an indoor farming specialist.

Continuing a theme from 2015, there are six women-led startups among the 20 total presenting companies:

Smart Vision Works International, based in Orem, UT, provides automated machinery that sorts and grades dates as well as other agriculture and aquaculture products.

Neogram, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, provides a non-GMO tropical pasture grass bred to improve digestibility and to support meat and milk cattle in tropical areas.

XTB Laboratories, based in Davis, CA, has developed an early detection method for citrus greening disease, which can be devastating for citrus crops.

Stem Shock, based in Surrey, B.C., Canada, provides a biological solution for herbicide resistance using RNA interference to safely control multiple weed species.

Ignitia, based in Stockholm, Sweden, has developed a weather forecasting model tailored to West Africa that forecasts at nearly twice the accuracy rate as existing global models according to the company.

Kiverdi, based in Hayward, CA, recycles greenhouse gas-based waste products through a single cell organism to produce food or fuel.

Since launching in 2009, 83 percent of companies that participated in the event found new investor leads. Roughly $477 million has been raised following the Showcase by participating companies, while 97 percent of companies reported being introduced to new partnership opportunities. Also, six companies have been acquired.

For more information about the event and to buy tickets, click here.

Meet us at Ag Innovation Showcase! Michael Dean and Lauren Manning will be there and are keen to connect!

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