The hardest part of owning a startup is always the beginning: the process of turning your idea into a company with a working business model and appropriate funding. Luckily, there is a multitude of accelerator programs in the South available to entrepreneurs who want to launch their startups quickly.
Everybody has to eat, and most of us rely on farmers to grow the food that eventually lands on our table. While we may have a general understanding that agriculture has been improving on its processes since the start of the industry, you may not have noticed just how much. In 2015 alone, $4.6 billion were invested in food and agri-tech startups. And given the universal and persistent need for food, the pursuit of innovation in this field continues.
And for the state of Tennessee, where 10% of the state economy is derived from its agribusiness, it’s become a priority to attract and invest in startups focused on agriculture. And one way to take advantage of the state’s financial focus on agritech is by applying to take part in the AgLaunch accelerator. Now in its second year, AgLaunch is looking for up to six teams to join them in May for a 15-week program focused on agriculture. Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s Ag Innovation Development Group, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Start Co. and EPIcenter are the key partners in creating the curriculum and support during the cohort’s time in Memphis.
For this year’s AgLaunch cohort, they are looking for companies in some specific areas of agritech, including robotics and automation, precision agriculture technology for row crops, sustainability, biologic-based pest controls, as well as specialty crops.
Four teams representing all aspects of agtech were part of the inaugural AgLaunch cohort: Cowlar (wearables for dairy cows), Secure Food Solutions (food pathogen detection), Skycision (using drones to detect crop stress) and YieldStart (bio-based technology for seed coating). For Skycision’s Brendan Carroll, the opportunities gained by participating the accelerator for his company will be seeing “the impact for a long time to come.”
Complete information on applying to the AgLaunch accelerator can be found on F6S. The applications are due March 1.