For agtech startups looking to advance their business, the options are, ahem, growing. With the market predicted to be worth $13.50 billion by 2023, more and more companies are surfacing who marry technological concepts with farming practices (traditional or otherwise) to tackle a growing number of issues in the agricultural industry: cleaner energy, healthier crops, and better harvesting tools.
Startup accelerators are an increasingly popular option for budding agtech companies, and these five specifically foster the agricultural sector:
The Yield Lab
The Yield Lab looks for early-stage agtech companies to participate in the four accelerators it holds throughout the year. Right now, it is taking applications for its Latin America and Asia-Pacific programs.
Both programs take place over the course of 12 months and are a combination of onsite and virtual participation. Seed-stage companies working in crop production, plant science, animal health, and precision agriculture (among other agtech areas) are encouraged to apply. All participants get $100,000, formal training, as well as ongoing mentorship.
Hatch is a 12-week aquaculture-only program, and looks for startups working up and down the industry, from rearing fish to growing ocean plants for food and making production more efficient through technology. While the location for the 2019 cohort is currently TBD, there will be visits to the Hatch offices in Singapore and Bergen, Norway throughout the duration of the program.
Typically, Hatch picks 12 companies for each cohort. Chosen companies get a €50,000 ($57,000) cash investment (with an 8 percent equity take), mentoring, office space, and support with prototyping and finding R&D partners. Seed or pre-seed aquaculture startups from all over the world are encouraged to apply, preferably via F6S. They haven’t yet announced an application deadline, but the program runs September through December, 2019.
Iowa AgriTech Accelerator
The state of Iowa is a hotbed of agtech startup activity, and the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator is an important part of that. Iowa AgriTech Accelerator alumni include Rabbit Tractors, maker of autonomous tractors, Phenomics Labs, whose platform does predictive phenotyping, and Birdpreneur, who helps small-scale poultry farmers in Africa scale up their business.
Participants get $40,000 in seed funding (in exchange for a 6 percent equity position for Iowa AgriTech), access to a mentorship network, office space in Des Moines, and housing for the duration of the 14-week program. Startups looking to solve a specific problem in the farming sector should apply here for the 2019 cohort.
Terra is a collaboration between financial services company RaboBank and startup-mentoring community RocketSpace. The bulk of Terra’s participants are companies that directly to agricultural production, from grain sorting (BoMill) to hyperspectral imaging (ImpactVision) to bird-repelling laser beam technology (Bird Control Group).
Terra doesn’t offer any financial investment for its cohorts. Rather it offers what it calls “a low-risk platform to validate technologies, strategies, products, and ideas.” Terra also has high standing and a solid reputation in the agtech industry, so it’s a resume boost, so to speak, for those who participate in the program.
The program can be done virtually or onsite at RocketSpace’s San Francisco campus. Workshops are done online. It runs four months (September through December), although specific dates within that period are determined on a case-by-case basis for participants. A demo day slated for January 2020 wraps the program. Applications for Cohort IV are open.
Ag Startup Engine
As I said, Iowa is a hotbed of agtech innovation. The Ag Startup Engine (ASE) works with Iowa State University’s Startup Factory program, and looks for companies specifically working in precision agriculture, animal health, livestock automation, clean energy, and robotics.
Funding for each company is determined on a case by case basis, and typically ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. Chosen participants also get mentorship and access to the Iowa agtech community. Unlike the other programs on this list, there’s no set beginning and end date for ASE. Rather, those interested are encouraged to schedule a 30-minute phone meeting to assess whether they’re a good fit for the program.
It’s the start of the year, which means there are plenty more foodtech accelerator programs in the works. Stay tuned for more updates, coming soon.