AgLaunch and Farm Journal Announce Cutting-Edge Startups for the 2021 AgLaunch365 Row Crop Challenge

The 10 Row Crop Challenge startups were chosen by a panel of farmers that selected innovations based on their potential to address key problems in U.S. row crop agriculture.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (November 8, 2021) — Ten early-stage agtech startups focusing on row crop innovations and sustainability are preparing for a week of intense virtual programming and the chance to pitch to a panel of farmers and aligned investors for a spot in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator. Teams will spend November 15-19th refining their value proposition, meeting with leading farmers and agricultural industry experts and improving their pitch and go-to market strategy.

AgLaunch is a 501c3 non-profit known for a unique, farm-centric approach to innovation. In addition to offering traditional acceleration resources such as business strategy coaching, mentorship and funding, AgLaunch also works with a network of more than 30 early-adopter farmers who collaborate with entrepreneurs to trial and scale new technologies. The AgLaunch365 Row Crop Challenge is the entry point to AgLaunch’s flagship acceleration program, and is designed specifically for innovators addressing key challenges in row crop agriculture, such as soil health, labor shortages and sustainable farming.

“The next cohort of technology startups will show what’s possible for the agricultural industry’s food and fiber production system,” said Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. “AgLaunch is working to make sure farmers are on the ground floor of ag innovation that will result in the development of better products and more farmer adoption of technology—both of which are important for on-farm sustainability and efficiency and an increase in rural jobs. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is proud to support the partnership of new agtech innovators and Tennessee farmers.”

Finalists for the Row Crop Challenge were selected using a panel of farmers from across the country as part of the AgLaunch farm-centric innovation model. Each startup is addressing an identified problem in row crop agriculture. AgLaunch’s model, catalyzed and supported by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, aims to position farmers to be competitive in a changing global marketplace.

The ten startups participating in the Row Crop Challenge are:

Crop Intellect

Crop Intellect is an R&D based company developing disruptive technologies to increase crop productivity sustainably. R-Leaf technology is our flagship technology, enabling the capture of atmospheric NOx to be used as a substrate to produce nitrogen on the surface of plants. Founder: Apostolos Papadopoulos, Lincoln, United Kingdom

Crop Rx Systems

Soil Sense by Crop Rx Systems is the next generation in farming; it automatically generates actionable data from the soil, optimizing farming efficiency. Founder: Jamie Herring, Rochelle, IL

Holganix

Holganix Bio 800+ charges soils with over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes to build soil health and crop yield. For farmers, ultimately, that means Holganix Bio 800+ improves their profit per acre, giving farmers the tools they need to drive both economic and environmental sustainability on the farm. Founder: Barrett Ersek, Aston, PA

Innatrix

Innatrix is developing eco-friendly biological products to control critical crop disease by a patented protein evolution platform to help farmers reduce yield loss by at least 10% and contribute to regenerative agriculture by increasing soil health. Founder: Dr. Jairu Li, Cary, NC

Phinite

Phinite is making fertilizer 2.0. Fertilizer 1.0 is synthetic, unsustainable and kills soil biology. Fertilizer 2.0 is regenerative, renewable and prevents pollution. We make our fertilizer from animal waste, it is perfect for use in broad-scale and is competitively priced against synthetic fertilizer. Founder: Jordan Phasey, Durham, NC

S&J NanoChemicals

S&J Nanochemicals provides next-generation technological solutions for the rising global agricultural demand. Our novel nanoparticle fertilizer products catalyze growth, yield, and longevity in a variety of crops at a single drop, while increasing environmental sustainability. Founder: Dr. Sou Palchoudry, Xenia, OH

Salin 247

Salin 247 is working to improve soil health and increase farm profitability by providing growers with small, light-weight, electric-powered, autonomous farm machinery. Founder: Dave Krog, Ames, IA

Susterre

Susterre is pioneering the use of ultra-high pressure fluid jet technology in row crop planting applications. Susterre’s technology promotes the adoption of no-till farming, lowering the cost of farming while regenerating the soil and preserving the earth’s natural resources. Founder: Michael Cully, Toronto, Canada

TopYield Ag

TopYield Ag is an online community for growers and agriculture professionals to learn, share their agriculture knowledge, and build their professional online reputation. We help our clients better understand the voice of the farmer. Founder: Kenny Johnson, Zionsville, IN

Vulpes Agricultural Corp.

Vulpes turns agricultural waste into carbon sources that act as carriers of nutrients and water to improve crop nutrient uptake by up to 300%. The Vulpes team brings extensive experience in manufacturing, R&D, regulation and supply chain. Founder: Rick Shang, Saint Louis, MO

Row Crop Challenge finalists are competing for a spot in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator beginning in January 2022, where they will receive investment, services and support, and will design their on-farm trials with members of the AgLaunch Farmer Network.

“We have a great crop of innovators this year and a diverse range of technologies that address key issues in ag,” said Margaret Oldham, Director of Entrepreneurship at AgLaunch. “We’re looking forward to helping these founders fine-tune their business plans and understand what it takes to run successful on-farm trials. It is a privilege to support startups that have the potential to shape the future of agriculture, and I can’t wait to see which ones will advance to the next stage of our program.”

Questions can be emailed to innovation@aglaunch.com.

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About AgLaunch

AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all. AgLaunch leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation and prosperity. AgLaunch has been designated as a Regional Innovation Cluster by the Small Business Administration, the only one focused on production agriculture.

About Farm Journal

Farm Journal is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 142 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors through branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; business magazines; events; nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile text marketing business; and an array of data-driven paid information products. Farm Journal also is the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace, Machinery Pete LLC. In 2010, the company established the non profit, public charity Farm Journal Foundation dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment.

AgLaunch365 Row Crop Challenge Accepting Applications Now

Applications close September 6, 2021

MEMPHIS, TN- July 15, 2021– Calling entrepreneurs and agtech startups! AgLaunch and Farm Journal are pleased to open applications for the third Row Crop Challenge to select leading startup companies addressing the biggest problems in production agriculture. The Row Crop Challenge will continue to focus on technologies that accelerate the adoption of sustainable production practices like regenerative soil health, water and nutrient management, labor and data management, improved efficiency in production, and traceability.

As many as 10 companies will be selected to participate in a live Row Crop Challenge sprint week held November 15-19, 2021 in Memphis, TN. Afterwards, teams will present their refined pitch to a panel of farmers and aligned investors to earn the opportunity to participate in the full AgLaunch365 Accelerator, a program designed to calibrate the needs of farmers with emerging technology.

Startups that are selected to participate in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator will work with the AgLaunch Farm and Entrepreneurship teams to design and implement field trials with diverse members of the AgLaunch Farmer Network. Qualified startups are eligible for equity investment from AgLaunch investment partners, Innova Ag Innovation Fund and AgVentures Alliance. In addition, teams accepted in the AgLaunch365 Accelerator will have access to media and data support through Farm Journal.

“This year’s challenge builds on the success AgLaunch has had in accelerating growth of startups like Rantizo, Continuum Ag, and Spornado,” Pete Nelson, AgLaunch’s Executive Director said. “With our Farmer Network and ag-experienced team, we are excited to work with a new cohort of entrepreneurs that can address the challenges facing farmers today. Startups we’ve worked with in the past tell us that our farmer-first focus and insight is critical to their success.”

AgLaunch’s unique multi-year model starts with the Row Crop Challenge, AgLaunch365 accelerator, and ends with a three-iteration on-farm trial pathway that takes ideas from proof-of-concept to peer-to-peer scale with targeted investor touch points along the way. AgLaunch365 operates in three phases over a 12-month period, ramping towards on-farm trials across the United States. Phases include:

Phase I– Row Crop Challenge: Participants receive support services to refine their startup’s value proposition and to prepare to pitch to row crop farmers and agricultural investors through a virtual pitch competition.

Phase II– AgLaunch365 Accelerator: A panel of innovative farmers and investors choose up to six startups to participate in this phase beginning January 2022. Startups will construct in-depth field trial plans while fine-tuning their business model.

Phase III– On-Farm Trials: The balance of 2022 is dedicated to implementing on[1]farm trial plans with the AgLaunch Farmer Network. Participating startups typically work directly with the AgLaunch agronomy team and farmers for three iterations of their technology and have exclusive access to farmer input and feedback.

Participants in AgLaunch365 will have access to the following services:

– Customized programming focused on agriculture and lean startup;

– Exclusive access to Farm Journal;

– Field trials and a farmer network made up of leading innovative farmers including cost share opportunity;

– Support from a national network of mentors and service providers;

– Opportunity to showcase their technology at an investor-focused demo day in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show and a producer-focused event at Top Producer Summit.

– Qualified startups are eligible for equity investment from AgLaunch investment partners, Innova Ag Innovation Fund and AgVentures Alliance.

Startup companies can learn more about the Row Crop Challenge and AgLaunch365 Accelerator by registering for an informational webinar on July 27 at 12 p.m. CT or August 12 at 12 p.m. CT.

Applications are being accepted through September 6. Start-up companies who are interested in the AgLaunch365 accelerator can apply here.

AgLaunch Expands Entrepreneurship Team

AgLaunch is excited to announce the expansion of their Entrepreneurship Team. Building off the success of the annual AgLaunch365 Accelerator program, AgLaunch is bringing on an expert group of agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship experts to expand their offerings for entrepreneurs.

AgLaunch is known for a unique, farm-centric approach to innovation. In addition to offering traditional acceleration resources such as business strategy coaching, mentorship, and funding, AgLaunch also works with a network of more than thirty early-adopter farmers who collaborate with entrepreneurs to trial and scale new technologies. Now, in addition to the current accelerator and bootcamp offerings, AgLaunch is expanding its programming to support innovators working in robotics and livestock, as well as diverse founders across the region to support ag entrepreneurship within underserved communities.

“We’re bringing on an all-star team to take our entrepreneurship offerings to the next level,” said AgLaunch Executive Director, Pete Nelson. “Their combined experience is a perfect mix to support our current portfolio companies and build out new programming to connect up-and-coming entrepreneurs with mentorship, capital, and opportunities to trial and scale their innovations with our farmer network.”

Margaret Oldham, a long-time consultant for AgLaunch, will be coming on full-time to lead the team as Director of Entrepreneurship. Margaret has deep roots in agriculture that began on a family dairy farm and has extensive experience bringing agricultural innovations to market in animal health, crop protection and specialty segments.Throughout her career she has successfully consulted with corporations like Elanco Animal Health and FMC, as well as startups like Rantizo and Indigo Ag. Margaret will lead the AgLaunch expansion of entrepreneurial programming  into livestock and robotics, in addition to delivery of farmer network education and support efforts to increase founder and farmer diversity in AgLaunch programs. 

Working closely with Margaret will be Lilly Tench, who is joining the AgLaunch team as Entrepreneurial Programs Lead. Originally from Berea, Kentucky and a Berea College graduate, Lilly spent four years working for an environmental non-profit in New York City before she joined the startup team of New Lab, an innovation hub built in a transformed ship-building facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She then worked with entrepreneurs through a cleantech accelerator based out of the Columbia University Technology Transfer Office. Lilly has an MBA and MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Allan Daisley will round out the team, serving as Entrepreneur in Residence. Allan is an entrepreneur, investor, and innovation and commercialization specialist. He has expertise in healthcare and information technology and was the co-founder of Memphis-based ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator. Allan will be working with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation teams to support the AgLaunch accelerator programming and the development of the Data Commons and the Open Market Consortium.

2021 AgLaunch Bootcamp Winners Announced

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 6, 2021) – Seven innovative startups have been selected to participate in a 3-week virtual bootcamp hosted by AgLaunch, the Knoxville Entrepreneur CenterSync Space, and The Biz Foundry. The chosen teams are ag innovators who are interested in growing their agricultural innovation business in a farm-centric model.

“I’m excited about the cohort we have this year; we’ve got a great mix of promising technologies and a talented group of founders,” said Jim Biggs, Executive Director of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.  “Building on the long-standing partnership between AgLaunch, KEC, Sync Space and the Biz Foundry, our Bootcamp allows us to introduce these startups to a wide variety of resources and expertise. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress the companies make during the three-week program.”

Participating teams will receive instruction on agricultural markets and the framework for organizing and communicating their ideas. They will also have access to best-in-class investors and mentors and the chance to apply for the AgLaunch365 accelerator.

This year’s teams include: 

Agreed – Agreed is accelerating the transition to regenerative agriculture by taking the experimentation out of optimization through gamified digital twins. Agreed maps farmers to CPG brands to increase farmer profitability and guarantee sourcing for sustainability-marketed products.

Agriwater Corp – Agriwater addresses environmental sustainability for farmers by monetizing off-grid wastewater treatment and pollution control.

GrowinLocal – GrowinLocal is a platform that empowers and enables users from all socio-economic backgrounds to grow, purchase and exchange locally grown produce, meats and house-hold necessities in a hyper local virtual marketplace.

Hempitecture – Hempitecture manufactures and distributes hemp-based building materials including their batt insulation product, HempWool®. These materials are safer, easier to use, and have a lower embodied carbon footprint than conventional building products. 

Innatrix – Innatrix is developing eco-friendly biological products to control critical crop diseases, using a patented protein evolution platform.

Open Agriculture Systems & Integrated Supply (OASIS): Oasis is an accessible, open-source platform for precision agriculture and industrial automation.

Susterre – Susterre is pioneering the use of ultra-high pressure fluid jet technology for row crop planting and seeding applications. Susterre’s technology promotes the adoption of no-till farming and cover crops, lowering the cost of farming while improving soil quality and preserving the earth’s natural resources.

Building off the success of the partnership between the four organizations last year, AgLaunch sees the collaboration with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Sync Space and The Biz Foundry as essential to reach and support agtech innovators in the Mid-South region. The 2021 AgLaunch Bootcamp Pitch Night will be held on July 27th from 6-8pm CT (7-9pm ET), you can register for the event here.

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2020 AgLaunch Field Day Goes Virtual! Plus! A New Look!

AgLaunch 2020 VIRTUAL Field Day | PLUS! A New Look!

The 2020 AgLaunch VIRTUAL Field Day will highlight the farmers, entrepreneurs, and communities that are working together to make the agricultural value-chain more sustainable and resilient, while also demonstrating that a strong network of farmers is positively impacting rural and urban communities from health care to education.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

  • 9:00 – 10:15 AM | AgTech + Sustainability Goals
  • 12:00 – 1:30 PM | Data + Ecosystem Markets + Capital
  • 3:00 – 4:15 PM | Communities + Impact

Learn more at AgLaunchFieldDay.com.

Attendees are encouraged to participate in the entire day, but you will have access to the session recordings in case your new normal makes that impossible. Register Now, Watch Later! 

And did you notice our new logo? We’re going to be rolling out our new look as we prepare for the field day. Be on the lookout for new videos, images, and ways we’re highlighting our work.