Western Growers announced the launch of a $4 million dollar AgTech fund on May 1. The mission of the fund will be to invest in agricultural innovation around the world. Investment in the fund comes from Western Growers and its member investors.
Western Growers is a 2000+ member trade association of farmers and growers in Colorado, Arizona and California. The new fund will be based in the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California. The idea behind the Center is to create a collaborative space for technology firms to meet with growers and farmers and members of the industry who can act as mentors and help create real solutions to the problems faced by the industry today.
Thomas Nassif, president and chief executive of Western Growers, Matt McInerney, executive vice president and Hank Giclas, senior vice present of science, technology and strategic planning, made the announcement last Thursday.
“Our members will be mentoring [start-ups],” Nassif said. “You can have a great idea but if there’s no commercial market for it, it’s not going to happen.”
The new fund will be managed by Silicon Valley Venture Partners.
“The intersection of technology and agriculture will pave the way to solve the exploding food production challenge, as well as deliver an incredible investment opportunity in the twenty-first century,” said John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners, told the Californian.
There is a strong agricultural presence in the Salinas Valley. While the fund intends to invest in, and foster the growth of, agricultural innovation the world over, it will likely positively impact local agribusiness (who also happen to be Western Growers member companies) significantly by attracting attention and investment from nearby Silicon Valley and Monterey.
With California entering the fourth year of what many expect to be a prolonged drought, many in the AgTech industry believe new solutions need to be found, not only when it comes to water use and distribution, but also when it comes to drone and robotics technology that can maximize efficiency.
Western Growers and SVG Partners announced their intentions to form a partnership in late April, but the new fund will stand on its own, with an independent investor group that includes Western Growers as a strategic investor.
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Photo Courtesy Western Growers.