Industry-in-Brief: Kashi Acquires Vegan Snack Company, California hosts Ag Hackathon, FAA Drone Regulation Update, more

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Kashi Acquires Vegan Snack Brand Pure Organic

Kashi, a business unit of Kellogg’s, has acquired Pure Organic, a maker of organic nutrition bars and fruit snacks. Financial terms were not disclosed. Pure Organic started in founder Veronica Bosgraaf’s kitchen 10 years ago, when she began making snacks for her then six-year-old daughter, who had decided to become a vegetarian. Products are certified organic and free of gluten, soy and dairy. In a video statement on the brand’s Facebook page, Ms. Bosgraaf said, “One of the reasons I knew Kashi was a great fit for Pure was because they fell in love with Pure for all the right reasons, the same reasons we love the brand. They appreciated the homegrown roots and the values that we stand for and the effort that we put into making delicious organic products. I’m so excited to join their team and work with them to continue to build the Pure Organic brand.” For Kashi, the acquisition comes at a time when the brand is working to revamp its offerings to align with today’s consumer preferences.

University of California and California State Fair to host 4th Apps for Ag Hackathon

Apps for Ag, a pro-bono endeavor supported by several AgTech hubs around California, and founded by the AgTech Roundtable, will hold its 4th event between July 15-17. The competitive hackathon to solve real problems in agriculture and food is being hosted by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the California State Fair. Software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers, farm consultants and others in the agricultural industry are encouraged to participate in the hackathon, which will be held at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources building at 2801 Second Street in Davis, from 8 a.m. Friday, July 15 to 11 a.m. Sunday, July 17. Participants will compete for cash prizes at a “pitchfest” in front of a live audience at the California State Fair on Sunday, July 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the top three apps: first place wins $5,000, second place $3,000 and third place $1,500. Apps for Ag’s members include USDA, CDFA, California Department of Technology, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Association of Pest Control Advisers and many other organizations.

FAA Expected to Drop New Small UAS Rules This Week

The rumors are flying that the FAA may soon drop its final version of the proposed Small Unmanned Aircraft System rule, which would remove some of the existing restrictions against using drones in commercial applications. The new set of regulations could come as soon as Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Stakeholders and industry observers will likely be eager to know whether the final version of the rules is substantially different from the proposed draft regulations the agency circulated several months ago. The industry has been at odds over what the rules should and should not require, including debates about whether operators should be required to keep drones within their line of sight or whether nighttime operations should be permitted.

Acend to Offer Usage-based Insurance to Unmanned Aerial Systems Market

Usage-based insurance (UBI) is becoming a common trend in the automotive industry. Now, telematics software and data science company Acend is offering a similar service to the Unmanned Aerial Systems market. Through a strategic partnership between Ascend and aerial data and safety platform provider PrecisionHawk, commercial drone operators can access and procure UBI through Acend’s automated platform. PrecisionHawk will provide Ascend with drone data, including flight statistics and user approval. Today, the process for drone operators to secure insurance coverage is time-consuming, inefficient and complex for both carriers and operators, says Acend. The collaboration is designed to address the complexities and analog nature of UAS insurance by combining the power of data analytics, technology, and ease-of-use together.

Final Day to Apply for METRO Accelerator’s hospitality and food tech accelerator is June 20

There are only four days left to apply for METRO Accelerator, a mentorship program for digital and technology startups across the entire value chain of hospitality and food tech. Powered by Techstars, METRO Accelerator will invest up to $133,700 in 10 hospitality and food tech companies over the course of its Berlin-based 13-week investment program where it will focus on doing deals with METRO. Last year’s class collectively raised over $20 million. The program recently told AgFunderNews that it’s getting close to selecting its top 10 so apply now.

Philadelphia Passes Soda Tax

Last week the Philadelphia City Council approved a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages, becoming the first municipality to pass such a law. The 13-4 vote ended a long and protracted public dialogue about whether the tax would successfully reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages or whether it posed an undue burden to the industry. Proponents will likely bring a legal challenge to the ordinance. Some judicial officials are already weighing in on the potential illegality of the tax.

Food System 6 (FS6) Accepting Applications for October 2016 Cohort

Non-profit impact-focused accelerator FS6 is now accepting applications for its first cohort which will begin in October 2016. The accelerator was created in response to the what the organization identifies as a pressing need to create a suitable and healthy food system that can feed our growing population. Its mission is to help the most promising for-profit and non-profit food system entrepreneurs to drive successful and scalable innovation and to use what they have learned to inform people and organizations that have a stake in creating a new food system. FS6 is focused on entrepreneurs pursuing innovation across the food system from inputs and agriculture through to processing, distribution, and retail. They are particularly interested in companies that can deliver improvements in sustainability, health, or access.

Typical applicants are for-profit entrepreneurs who are pre-institutional capital and also non-profit innovations that may be later stage. Each cohort will include 8-10 innovations roughly composed of two-thirds for-profit and one-third non-profit. The cohort program will take place over five months (October 2016-February 2017) and will include three in-person sessions in the Bay Area along with customized support, individual mentorship, business & organizational development, and access to our broad network including potential funders, customers and investors.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • There’s a fitbit for bovines and it could help boost milk production, on Fortune.
  • Mars is considering taking some of its candy out of fast food products to tamp down its sugary image, on Reuters.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is speaking at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, which promotes foreign direct investment in the US. View the agenda here.
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