Interest in agtech is heating up more than ever. Earlier this week, Austin, TX’s Chamber of Commerce announced its annual list of the top 12 most promising startups in the region and two of the companies on that list were agtech companies. The selection process is highly competitive, with over 275 companies receiving nominations. As a result, landing a spot on the list is a prestigious acknowledgment for startups.
The list is divided into three categories based on investment stages, including emerging, growth, and scale. The honorees represent some of the hottest technology sectors, including biotechnology, big data, and agriculture. Two honorees, Green & Grow and Illumitex, are creating innovative products and solutions in the agtech sector.
Green & Grow develops and commercializes new agricultural products based on non-living, non-toxic, microbe derived by-products that have been specifically formulated to improve a variety of crops. The company’s Agriplier® line of water-soluble products can be applied with standard fertilizers, nutrients, and other crop protection products. The non-living products have a long shelf life and lack the inherent uncertainty that comes with using live microorganisms.
Green & Grow recently rolled out a new line of OMRI listed products under the Rise Organic™ label. OMRI, or the Organic Materials Review Institute, is an international nonprofit organization that determines which agricultural products can be used safely in organic farming operations under the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
In August 2014, Green & Grow raised $6 million in Series B funding from Otter Capital, a new investor in the startup. Otter’s private equity investments and development strategies have targeted leading edge agriculture and food production companies, including AgraQuest, a well-known biopesticide company.
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Illumitex is the second agtech company to earn a coveted spot on the list. The company has developed a new type of LED lighting that offers a uniform, highly precise beam directly from the source. This technology opens the door to more versatile and energy efficient lighting applications. The company’s lighting has been used for a variety of horticultural applications, allowing precise management of sensitive environments. As a result, Illumitex has enabled many horticulturalists and indoor farmers to maximize crop production and total yields, in addition to saving on the electrical bill.
The company has received at least $8.2 million in funding from multiple sources, including NEA, Morgan Creek Capital, Mousse Partners, Apex Venture Partners, Syngenta Ventures, and Arrow Realty.
The Austin-based company claims that its patented LED technology allow more light tor each the plant canopy, improving overall growth and getting the crops to harvest on a faster timeline. Illumitex offers its diverse array of lighting products for lease or purchase, and provides information to its customers on various energy-saving rebate incentives. The company’s representatives will help you look for rebate programs that make the cost of purchasing or leasing Illumitex’s products much cheaper.
“Entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit are powering so much of what makes Austin’s current economy so exciting,” said Hugh Forrest, Director of South by Southwest Interactive. According to Forrest, part of South by Southwest Interactive’s purpose is to strengthen “Central Texas as a hub of innovation.” Part of the A-List’s goal is to provide selectees with a platform for increasing awareness about their company’s mission and purpose, and to attract funding opportunities. Since the A-List awards were first rolled out, honorees have seen a combined $258,670,000 in investment from various outlets.
Michele Skelding, the SVP of Global Technology and Innovation at the Austin Chamber of Commerce spoke at the May 12, 2015 unveiling ceremony. Skelding said, “Austin is rich with innovative startups that are primed for rapid growth. The A-List platform shines a spotlight and amplifies our diverse and rich talent, helping to maintain our lead as the most innovative, entrepreneurial region.”
Partners of the Austin A-List of the Hottest Start-ups 2015 included: SXSW Interactive, Google, Merrill Lynch, IBM, SkylesBayne, SafeGuard World International, Cushman & Wakefield | Oxford Commercial, STG Design, Booz Allen Hamilton, Facebook, Texas Mutual, Altera, Silicon Hills Wealth Management, Bazaarvoice, Visa, Husch Blackwell and SunPower.