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Agriculture Tech Start-Up Accelerator to Open

Wheat plants

Shree Krishna Dhital (Wikimedia Commons)

18 December 2017. A group supporting start-up companies and entrepreneurs developing new technologies in food and agriculture plans to begin next month in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Farm to Fork Accelerator is operated by the Techstars network of start-up enterprise support organizations, and funded by water-energy services company Ecolab and agricultural technologies company Cargill, both headquartered in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Farm to Fork Accelerator plans to enroll 10 promising start-up companies for a 13-week course beginning in the summer of 2018. The initial class, according to the funders, is expected to focus on solutions to problems of food security and safety, agricultural technology, consumer goods, and supply chain management. Applications for the first class open on 8 January 2018.

Techstars provides initial seed funding, training, and mentorship in its start-up course, but also lifetime access to its network of founders and investors, which Techstars says numbers 1.5 million. Of the 1,157 companies taking part in its programs so far, says Techstars, 90 percent are still active or were acquired, gained a total of $4 billion in funding, and have a total market capitalization in excess of $10 billion. Ecolab and Cargill executives are expected to take part as mentors for Farm to Fork Accelerator participants.

Techstars says its accelerator courses typically have 10 company participants, who are introduced to mentors that help guide the companies through their first stages, such as developing a prototype system or finding an enterprise’s first customers. Participants learn about fundraising, and techniques to communicate the company’s vision to investors and partners. Each concludes with a “demo day” where participants display and explain their progress.

Brett Bohl, managing director of Farm to Fork Accelerator says the time is right for new enterprises focusing on digital and other technologies in food and agriculture. “Globally, food spoilage is rampant,” says Bohl in a Techstars blog post, “food safety is a growing concern, yet we don’t have the solutions to create more land or enough fresh water needed to feed the growing population.”

Bohl adds, “Cargill and Ecolab are working with Techstars to see the global challenges and possible solutions through the eyes of entrepreneurs. They want to work closely with these innovators and help develop technologies that take advantage of opportunities and solve big problems.”

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