Jun 23, 2023
Application deadline nears for agtech startup competition

Agtech startups have a month left to apply for Western Growers and S2G Ventures’ 2023 AgSharks competition.

During the event, agtech startups pitch innovations in front of an audience of the world’s largest specialty crop producers to win a $250,000 minimum investment. Entrepreneurs and startups developing technologies that promote a more healthy and sustainable food and agriculture system can apply for the AgSharks Competition online. Applications close on July 28, at 11:59 p.m. PST.

“As our partnership with S2G Ventures to host the AgSharks competition at the Western Growers Annual Meeting enters its sixth year, we look forward to finding finalists who can bring real-world technology solutions to solve the issues impacting the specialty crop community,” Dave Puglia, Western Growers president and CEO, said in a news release. “2022 AgSharks winner NutJobs earned a record $6 million equity investment — and this year we invite entrepreneurs to apply who have a similar bold vision.”

Three finalists will be selected to pitch their solutions to a panel of growers, shippers, processors and venture capitalists in front of more than 300 fresh produce farmers and industry leaders during the WG Annual Meeting Nov. 12-15 in Kauai, Hawaii.

In addition to potential investment capital, the winners will receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and Western Growers, potential access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies and access to WG’s expansive network of leading fresh produce companies.

“It takes an ecosystem of stakeholders working together to unlock better outcomes for consumers and producers,” Audre Kapacinskas, principal at S2G Ventures, said in the release. “Western Growers has been a tremendous partner, serving as a bridge between growers, innovators and investors to accelerate innovation in agriculture.

“As an investor, we bring capital to the table, and having an open dialogue with growers allows us to have a better understanding of industry needs and how we might work together to meaningfully move the needle on innovation in agriculture,” Kapacinskas said in the release. “We look forward to collaborating again this year.”

AgSharks originated in 2017. During last year’s competition, AgSharks winner NutJobs received a record $6 million equity investment offer. Nutjobs transforms nutshell waste into bio-benign plastic alternative products that are compostable.

Past AgSharks winners Hazel Technologies and Burro have since brought their products from development to market. Hazel Technologies has raised more than $87.8 million in funding over six rounds for its sachets that extend the shelf life of fresh produce by as much as three times.

Burro raised a $10.9 million in Series A funding in September 2021 led by S2G Ventures and Toyota Ventures to expand its fleet of autonomous robots to farms across the West.


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