Why We Invested: Olombria

by Jonathan Hua, THRIVE Accelerator Manager
This post originally appeared on Medium.com.


I love to eat. I consume blueberries, strawberries, and almonds like moviegoers consume popcorn: mindlessly and in giant handfuls. When I started investing in the agrifood tech sector through SVG Ventures-THRIVE, my primary goal was to invest in an industry that is both supporting the sustainability of our natural ecosystem and helping to improve our food production capabilities to help feed a burgeoning population. This is why I was so excited when I met the co-founding trio behind Olombria — Tashia, Louis and Greg.

The Challenge

Food production can be impacted by several factors, including climate change, and the availability of key resources like water, energy, labor and arable land. However, one key catalyst to food production that is often overlooked is pollination. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. According to the FAO, we know that, of all crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human consumption, roughly 75% depend, at least in part, on pollinators such as honey bees. In addition, pollinators affect 35% of global arable land, supporting the production of nearly 90 of the world’s leading food crops. But wild pollinators are under threat —according to the USDA, bee populations have been steadily declining for years now due to Varroa mite infestations, habitat loss, pesticides, weather and disease. In the USA, there has been an 18% reduction in honeybee hives since 1990. Hive prices have skyrocketed, with growers spending $400 million to pollinate almond trees each year in California alone, and an estimated nearly $3 billion spent across all crops in the USA each year. If this alarming trend continues, we are facing a loss or severe yield decrease of several critical fruits and crops we currently take for granted. Can you imagine a world where we have limited access to coffee, cocoa, or strawberries? The horde of dessert aficionados and coffee addicts would revolt! So the key here is either to help re-boost the honey bee population or to find an alternative pollination source.

The Solution

And this is where Olombria comes in. Olombria uses hoverflies (and is currently experimenting with other fly variations) as supplementary pollinators to bees in agrarian settings. Flies already do about 1/3 of the world’s pollination, but they are still underutilized and the Olombria technology substantially increases their effectiveness. Their solution involves a mesh network of machine learning nodes with insect recognition and chemical signal release capabilities that are connected to sprayer devices that release natural volatiles and carefully curated chemicals into a field to attract and manage the behavior of flies to aid in the pollination process. They are also testing a computer vision device that can provide farmers and growers with actionable insights on insect assemblage, pollinator availability/areas of deficit, pollinator effectiveness, pollinator health, as well as environmental data (to track conditions affecting the chemical dispersion process). The solution is comprehensive, quite innovative in its approach and tackles a significant problem in the food production process.

Why Is This Important?

Believe it or not, insect pollination contributes an estimated $175 billion globally through increased productivity in agriculture each year. Olombria is tackling a large primary market that has high impact potential through a diversity of crop types across fruits, berries and nuts. Looking at the economics, increasing crop yield through fly pollinator efficiency by a conservative estimate of only 2% is worth upwards of $100 million per year in value to almond farmers, with the potential to increase crop yields by ~4% or more, which increases grower value to an additional $200 million per year. This increase not only provides a significant return on a grower’s investment through more optimized crop production numbers, but also helps to create a sustainable pollination system into the future that takes the risk out of pollinating in irregular bloom seasons. On top of that, there is the potential to save farmers millions of dollars on beehive rentals and maintenance.

Olombria Is Still Very Early-Stage — What Gives THRIVE Confidence That They Will Succeed?

  1. Tashia, Louis and Greg are impressive in their own right — they studied together at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and built Olombria out of RCA’s 2017 Biodesign Challenge. Within a year of starting the business, they closed a pre-seed funding round with multiple investors and have ongoing trials and partnerships with over a dozen of the UK’s key growers and agricultural organizations. In the process, they have also built up an impressive team of scientists and researchers including the world’s leading behavioral entomologists, chemical ecologists, fly experts and pollination biology experts.
  2. Despite the fact that almonds and berries have relatively short bloom seasons, they are high-value crops with a huge TAM potential. Olombria is targeting all crops that require pollination.
  3. Olombria’s business model is accessible to farmers of all sizes and involves a low-cost subscription service for both the IoT nodes and data aggregation. Despite the low cost to farmers, the profit margins for Olombria are still respectably high.
  4. Olombria has very few competitors in the space — in fact, it is a stretch to even consider beekeepers to be competitors, despite bees being the biggest competitor to hoverflies in pollination. They are, in fact, supplementary to each other in the field and do not have any negative effects on the pollinating capabilities of the other group. In addition, utilizing beekeeping services means purchasing costly hives and labor-intensive maintenance to go along with it. If the bee population continues to dwindle, flies will have to come to the rescue. Walmart also created some buzz (pun intended) recently for patenting autonomous robot bees. While intriguing, this solution has not yet proven to be as effective as natural bees or flies, is difficult to implement and has high upfront Cap Ex considerations. But the advent of robotic pollination helps Olombria by further validating the market need for a pollination alternative to bees.
  5. Olombria is future-proofing their technology. Vertical farming is a sector of agriculture that has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the past few years. As urban populations continue to proliferate, high-tech and vertically integrated farming solutions will become more highly sought-after. With next-gen farming companies like Bowery Farming, Plenty, BrightFarms and AeroFarms raising mega financing rounds of upwards of $100 million+, it is clear to see that indoor farming is the next frontier of agriculture. With that said, many fruits and plants grown indoors also require pollination. Right now, this is being done using a combination of robotic bees (expensive), hand pollination (low precision) and artificial wind pollination (costly and space-prohibitive). These are band-aid fixes but are not sustainable solutions in the long-term. Due to the closed environment of indoor farms, honeybees are not a viable pollinating solution. This leaves a relatively wide-open opportunity for Olombria to utilize the versatility of flies to create the next generation of pollinators for indoor use.

I’m excited about what Olombria has built so far, and keen to see them successfully launch their product into market. I love investing in sharp founders with low egos and copious amounts of confidence in executing on their vision. We are so impressed with how polished the team is and how well they work together. To sum it up: the Olombria team is “pretty fly”.

Founder Spotlight: Karen Schuett, Founder & CEO, Livestock Water Recycling

Livestock Water Recycling: Creating value for  food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids

In the weeks leading up to Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day, we will highlight each of our startup companies, their technologies, and our reason for investing in them. This week, we highlight Livestock Water Recycling, based in Calgary, Canada and founded by Karen Schuett, which uses both mechanical and chemical treatments to remove manure contaminants and segregate valuable fertilizer nutrients at large livestock operations. Read more in the interview with Karen below and in ‘Why We Invested‘, a series written by our THRIVE Accelerator Manager, Jonathan Hua, that provides insight on how each THRIVE portfolio company aligns with our firm’s investment thesis.


  1. Can you talk about the LWR technology, and what kind of impact it has on the customer/farming operation? 

LWR creates value for food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids. The recently re-launched LWR2System is a proven, patented, commercialized nutrient recovery platform.Now equipped with data accumulation sensors for our subscription-based analytics program, the System reduces the volume of manure and bio liquids, concentrates nutrients into valuable crop fertilizers, and delivers a renewable, high-quality clean water source. At the height of the farm-to-table social movement consumers are demanding transparency. This technology is designed to achieve optimized production, maximum crop yields, and a high return on investment, while minimizing the environmental impact of food production.

Livestock producers who have installed the system have been given back the control of their water and waste stream. They can avoid adding expensive manure storage and can expand their herds to feed more people without increasing their water footprint. The water that is being recycled is making farms cleaner and safer for animals and employees. Farms are reducing the amount of freshwater that they are using for irrigation and are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 61%. Crop yields have also increased due to precision nutrient application.


  1. You talk about the circular economy – how does this kind of systems thinking inform what you do and what you are trying to achieve?

Environmental impact lies at the heart of the circular economy and the LWR manure treatment platform protects the environment while helping producers stay competitive. Our technology is designed to extract the maximum value from manure by recovering and segregating all the resources locked inside. Farms no longer have large volumes of dilute manure they are trying to get rid of, but instead have concentrated products that can create a manure economy.  This manure-based fertilizer is especially valuable to crops that are looking for organics and not synthetic fertilizers.

Farmers who install the LWR System can confidently say to their consumers that no resources were lost or wasted in the making of their products!

The key to our process is the ability to recover over 90% of the phosphorus in the manure solids as a dry fertilizer that can be re-used or sold.  This solid contains valuable organics that also regenerate soils.  The liquid fertilizer also created contains valuable micronutrients together with concentrated potassium and nitrogen.  Again, this is a saleable product.  This liquid can easily be applied with conventional irrigation equipment as it is solid-free.


Karen at SXSW, where she pitched before a panel of five judges and agtech and foodtech enthusiasts during the Land O’Lakes Copernicus Project installation


  1. One of the key tensions in climate-proofing/introducing new environmental practices to farming is that they are a financial drain on already strained farm operations- can you talk about the economics of LWR and why it is in a farmers best self interest?

Traditional manure management costs are high and add nothing to the bottom line of a large livestock operations. As an example, a1,000 cow dairy can spend $306,130 a year to get manure from the cow to the field and a dairy farm with 2,500 cows produces as much waste as a city with 411,000 people!Expansion of US farms is restricted due to a lack of available land for manure spreading and storage, limiting both food production and revenue growth. Dairy and hog producers are currently spending between 2-4¢/gallon on their manure management using outdated lagoon and spreading systems. By installing the LWR System, producers can reduce costs to 1¢/gallon or less.

In particular, dairies who are using this technology are also improving their milk quality and increasing production. When a barn is clean and dry, the cows are cleaner and more comfortable. When a cow lays down on clean, comfortable bedding, her blood flow increases, which increases her milk production. We have also seen a 30% reduction in somatic cell counts, and reductions in slippage, injury, and mastitis where our technology has been installed.  These added benefits show their can be economic uptick involved with improved environmental practices!


  1. Provide some of LWR’s key metrics in terms of financial impact, environmental impact, and how large the market is for a technology like this? 

LWR Systems that are installed across the US have a combined ability to recycle over 775,000,000 gallons of manure annually with the potential recovery of over 550 million of gallons of clean, reusable water!  That’s enough water to fill 829 Olympic sized pools, or the annual water consumption of over 15,000 Americans.

Our costs savings for farmers includes reductions on manure management expenses from 1-3 cents/gallon plus the potential to increase feed crop production. This increase is significant because feed crops are the largest single expense for livestock farmers.

Manure is the most exciting and significant opportunity we have encountered in our 20+ years in the water treatment industry due to the size of the market, the magnitude of the problem, the value proposition we can provide to farms, and consumer trends of transparency & authenticity. Our total available market size $77 billion and our serviceable available market is $8 billion. This includes dairy, hog, mixed waste anaerobic digesters, and beef cattle feedlot operations in the US alone.


  1. One fun fact about you (outside of founding and running LWR!)

Karen is a space enthusiast who is always on the look out for her opportunity for space travel.

SVG Ventures Announces its THRIVE V Seed Accelerator Cohort



April 4, 2019— Los Gatos, CA– The SVG Ventures-THRIVE AgTech platform announced today the nine startup finalists that comprise its 5th annual seed accelerator cohort.

Following 6 months of rigorous research and analysis these nine companies were selected from a global applicant pool of 275 companies across 67 countries. SVG Ventures-THRIVE will invest $100k in each company bringing their total investment portfolio to 39 companies and making them one of the most active AgTech investors in the sector.  Additionally SVG recently held a THRIVE-X Challenge at SXSW and invested $100k in the winning company, Agshift, and has also made a follow up investment in Microgen, one of its THRIVE III cohort companies.

The cohort’s technology categories range from big data & analytics (The Bee Corp, FarmX, Intelliconn, Wellntel, Livestock Water Recycling), to robotics (Tensorfield Technologies), next gen farms (Alesca Life Technologies), and biotechnology (Olombria, ProteoSense), and address key agriculture and food challenges such as food safety/security, labor shortages and resource constraint/environmental concerns.

The nine startups will participate in the SVG Ventures-THRIVE Accelerator Program, a four month program which kicked off in February and culminates at the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day during the Forbes AgTech Summit on June 26 in Salinas, California. Over the course of the intensive accelerator program, companies will be provided live and virtual coaching covering topics such as go-to-market strategy, supply chain, field deployment, fundraising and global expansion. The accelerator program  emphasizes critical industry relationships and market traction by providing top tier agriculture, business and technology mentorship and connecting startups with THRIVE’s corporate innovation partners.

“Each year, we are truly impressed with the caliber of our startup teams and the quality of their technology solutions and this year is no exception,” said John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures-THRIVE. “We look forward to helping our THRIVE V startups succeed and scale their solutions for real impact in the food and agriculture industries over the course of the next few months.”

Register now for the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day.


Introducing the THRIVE V Cohort- 2019


Creates next-gen urban farming solutions (i.e. in shipping containers) using advanced software technology.

Leadership: Tsuyoshi Stuart Oda, CEO

Location: China

Alesca Life is an agricultural technology company that builds weatherproof, cloud-connected farms to enable local food production by anyone anywhere. The startup was founded in August 2013, and over the past 5 years has developed hardware, IoT and IT products to modernize the agricultural industry and dramatically improve productivity, consistency, and efficiency.


Predictive data analytics and infrared technology for beehives to monitor hive-health.

Location: Bloomington, IN

Leadership: Ellie Symes, CEO

The Bee Corp’s product, Verifli applies data analytics to beehives to help growers ensure effective pollination through infrared inspection technology. The Bee Corp increases yield for farmers by monitoring the number, health and distribution of pollinating bees. Since launching the product February 2019, The Bee Corp has inspected over 6,700 beehives.



Precise irrigation optimization from a comprehensive sensor package.

Leadership: Tushar Dave, CEO

Location: Berkeley, CA

FarmX uniquely provides farmers with a complete monitoring and analysis solution that improves productivity immediately. FarmX scales quickly and appeals to all types of farmers with its analytics-service model. FarmX differentiates in its full-spectrum analytics offering which combine PCA, irrigation management, crop advisory services and adverse conditions monitoring into one simple solution.


Leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition, management, connectivity & remote monitoring.

Leadership: Ken Jackson, CEO

Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Intelliconn manufactures and sells leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition and management as well as farm connectivity and remote monitoring and control solutions.


Creating value for  food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids.

Leadership: Karen Schuett, CEO

Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada

The LWR System is the only proven commercialized technology that reduces the overall volume of manure, concentrates nutrients into a valuable solid fertilizer, a crop additive liquid fertilizer, and delivers a renewable, high-quality water source.


Insect pollination solution that curates fly behavior to increase pollination and ensure greater crop yields.

Leadership: Tashia Tucker, CEO

Location: London, UK

Olombria uses specific species of flies to supplement bees as primary pollinators. Flies already do about 30% of the world’s pollination, but the Olombria technology substantially increases their effectiveness. They use advanced, natural chemical signaling and mapping technologies to choreograph their behavior, placing them just where the crops need them to be.


Solid-state biosensor technology for food safety testing.

Leadership: Mark Brynes, CEO

Location: Columbus, OH

ProteoSense LLC is commercializing RapidScan™, a solid-state biosensor technology for food stafety testing. ProteoSense’s high-sensitivity field portable system detects foodborne pathogens without incubation, reducing total test time from days to minutes – a 10x improvement over existing tests. Partnering with Taylor Farms, a leading producer of fresh-cut vegetables, ProteoSense is developing tests for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Listeria – the primary foodborne pathogens – that can be administered on-site by non-technical personnel.



Collaborative robots that perform non-invasive, no-herbicide weeding using thermal micro-dosing techniques.

Leadership: Xiong Chang, CEO

Location: San Jose / Salinas Valley

Tensorfield Agriculture is building the next generation of agricultural machines, initially to address three primary concerns of growers worldwide: the cost and availability of labor, the threat of herbicide resistance and the anticipated legislative burdens around using existing herbicides. The science is clear: the only way to mitigate the threat of herbicide resistance is to reduce or end our reliance on them, with the only viable alternative being the development and commercialization of new strategies for weed control. They leverage our deep manufacturing ties in Shenzhen, China to iterate fast and produce robots that can scale to multiple geographies and crop types: robots that they believe are the future of maintaining our ongoing supply of safe, sustainable fresh food.



Wellntel’s groundwater monitoring technology and insight  make groundwater visible and manageable.

Leadership: Marian Singer, CEO

Location: Morro Bay, CA and Milwaukee, WI

Wellntel is a groundwater-level monitoring technology and information system company. They sell sensor equipment, field services and cloud-based data services to turn irrigation wells into real-time groundwater supply monitoring points. With Wellntel, farmers and growers get the groundwater supply and seasonal trend data they need to inform operational plans, measure progress and sustainably manage their resource.



About SVG Ventures-THRIVE

SVG-THRIVE is the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors. With a community of over 1,500 startups from 67 countries, the THRIVE platform invests, accelerates and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs to scale globally. SVG Ventures-THRIVE is based in Silicon Valley, California.

www.svgpartners.com www.thriveagtech.com




THRIVE Announces 2019 Top 50 Report Highlighting Leading Growth Stage Companies & Unicorn Predictions in Food and AgTech

San Francisco, March 11, 2019 – SVG Ventures today announced its 2019 THRIVE Top 50 Report, an annual ranking of 50 leading global AgTech companiesexemplifying the best in agriculture and food-focused innovation. Recognizing companies across 6 different technology categories and seven problem areas within agriculture and food, the list is the result of six months of rigorous research and analysiswith input provided by SVG Ventures corporate partners’ Trimble, Land O’Lakes, Wilbur Ellis, Taylor Farms, Elanco, Corteva, E&J Gallo Winery, Verizon Wireless, the City of Salinas, Western Growers Association, Yamaha Motor Venture & Laboratory Silicon Valley, Driscoll’s Berries, JV Smith, and Wells Fargo.


The 2019 report uses data from SVG Ventures’ startup database and supplementary industry data to identify 50 companies that are series A funded and have recently fundraised as well as have a product in market. The final fifty companies reflected in this year’s report were then categorized into six main technology categories- Biotechnology, Connected Devices, Cloud Services/Saas, Robotics & Automation, Next-Gen Farms, and Big Data & Analytics- and seven problem areas- Health & Nutrition, Labor, Farm Management, Environmental Sustainability, Food Safety, Traceability, And E-Commerce.


The report also includes analysis and highlights of industry exits, including the purchase of previous THRIVE Top 50 companies Agrible, by Nutrien for $63M, and Strider by Syngenta, amongst other purchases led by Land O’Lakes, Merck and Jain Irrigation.


In addition, 2019’s report includes THRIVE’s 25 Ones to Watch, a list is comprised of 25 agtech companies that fell just short of meeting the top 50 criteria(series A, recent large fundraise and a product in market).


Finally,2019 Unicorn Contenders predicts the industry’s next billion-dollar companies, and this year is dominated by vertically integrated ‘next-gen’ farms including AeroFarms and Brightfarms, and top biotechnology contenders Gingko Bioworks and Indigo Ag.


“This year’s awardees are developing incredible solutions that enable the agriculture and food industries to respond in a proactive way to urgent environmental challenges, labor shortages, food security, and human health concerns” said SVG Ventures-THRIVE Founder and CEO John Hartnett, “Top 50 companies are critical assets to the industry and we are proud to highlight the incredible spectrum of innovation represented by this year’s Top 50.”

THRIVE Top 50 company founders and executives, including CropIn Technology Solutions, AeroFarms, Pivot Bio, Prospera, Taranis Ag, Bension Hill Biosciences and Solinftech, will present onstage during THRIVE’s AgTech Innovation Summit on March 27, hosted for the first time at Santa Clara University.


Big Data Analytics

Ceres Imaging

Farmer’s Edge Laboratories

Farmers Business Network

Phytech Inc

PrecisionHawk, Inc









Apeel Sciences

Benson Hill Biosystems


Clear Labs

Concentric Ag Corporation

Cool Planet Energy Systems

Ginkgo Bioworks



Myco Technology


Pairwise Plants


Pivot Bio








Cloud Services/SaaS



Cibo Technologies


CropIn Technologies




Connected Devices

Advanced Animal Diagnostics





Stellapps technologies Pvt. Ltd.



Next Gen Farms


Bowery Farming


Plenty Inc.


Robotics & Automation

Harvest Automation


About SVG Ventures-THRIVE

SVG-THRIVE is the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors. With a community of over 1,500 startups from 67 countries, the THRIVE platform invests, accelerates and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs to scale globally. SVG Ventures-THRIVE is based in Silicon Valley, California.


SVG Ventures-THRIVE Platform Announces Strategic Partnership With E. & J. Gallo Winery

San Francisco, California (March 11, 2019) – SVG Ventures, a California-based venture and innovation firm, announced today its latest partnership with E. & J. Gallo Winery (Gallo), the world’s largest family-owned winery.


As an industry leader committed to innovation, Gallo will leverage the SVG Ventures-THRIVE AgTech brand to identify and accelerate disruptive technologies for the wine industry. A $35 billion industry in the U.S. with the size of the global market reaching $423 billion by 2023, wine represents a significant opportunity for disruptive tech startups. Despite growth and significant M&A activity led by Gallo,the industry faces challenges  as consumer preferences around the world evolve and retail contexts are changing.


“We are very excited to partner with SVG Ventures-THRIVE Platform to advance innovation in the wine industry” said Greg Coleman, Vice President of Central Valley Grower Relations.  He added, “we are continuously looking for new ways to drive efficiencies in our business and to keep up with growing demand and changing consumer preferences.”


“We are delighted to welcome Gallo as the latest partner to join our global agtech investment and innovation platform,” said John Hartnett, Founder & CEO of SVG Ventures-THRIVE.  “Wine is an incredible opportunity for our startups and we look forward to tapping into the expertise of Gallo,” he added.


Leadership from E. & J. Gallo Winery will attend the THRIVE Innovation Summit in late March.


About E. & J. Gallo Winery

Founded by brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo in 1933 in Modesto, California, E. & J. Gallo Winery is the world’s largest family-owned winery and the acclaimed producer of award-winning wines and spirits featured in more than 110 countries around the globe. A pioneer in the art of grape growing, winemaking, sustainable practices, marketing and worldwide distribution, Gallo crafts and imports wines and spirits to suit a diverse range of tastes and occasions, from everyday offerings to boutique, luxury bottlings.


The Gallo portfolio is comprised of more than 100 unique brands, including Barefoot Cellars, Dark Horse, and Gallo Family Vineyards, as well as premium box wines The Naked Grape and Vin Vault. Premium offerings include Apothic, Carnivor, Chateau Souverain, Columbia Winery, Ecco Domani, Edna Valley Vineyard, J Vineyards & Winery, Louis M. Martini, MacMurray Estate Vineyards, Mirassou, Orin Swift, Talbott Vineyards, and William Hill Estate, along with highly acclaimed imports, such as Alamos, Brancaia, La Marca, Las Rocas, Martín Códax, Whitehaven, and LUX Wines, importers of Allegrini, Argiano, Jermann, Pieropan and Renato Ratti. Gallo Spirits offers New Amsterdam Vodka and Gin and E&J Brandy, in addition to imported Scotch whiskies from Whyte & Mackay, including The Dalmore, Jura Single Malt and John Barr Blended.



Since 2011, Silicon Valley Global “SVG” has been building a global AgTech innovation platform that accelerates, invests, and works with entrepreneurs, investors, and Fortune 500 food, agriculture, and technology corporations. THRIVE’s mission is to solve key industry challenges, test technologies in the field and across the supply chain, and build partnerships across the ecosystem in order to shorten the time it takes to bring innovation to market. SVG Ventures is based in Silicon Valley, California.


Silicon Valley works to strengthen U.S.-China agritech cooperation

Pleased to announce THRIVE’s strategic move into China, where the team will play an advisory role in the development of the Nanjing Modern Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Pilot Park. For THRIVE, the strategic engagement provides a opportunity to bring agtech startups into China to test, validate and scale in the massive hashtag agriculture market in the country.

SAN FRANCISCO, — Agriculture experts in Silicon Valley are working with their Chinese counterparts to further collaboration in agritech innovation between the United States and China.

The United States and China can collaborate with each other to tackle their common challenges in food and agriculture, such as farm labor shortages, scarce resources, and food security and safety, John Hartnett, an agritech expert in Silicon Valley, said Saturday.

Hartnett sees agritech innovation as the only solution to those challenges.

He visited Chinese cities of Beijing and Nanjing last month, where he met with government officials and leaders in agriculture.

“The meetings were very positive. They were very engaged and very focused on driving leadership in agtech,” said Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Partners, an investment, technology and advisory firm. “I was impressed with their work and initiative, and how quickly they are moving with this initiative.”

The initiative he referred to is the Nanjing Modern Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Pilot Park, the first national-level agricultural innovation zone in China.

Launched in July last year, the park consists of a scientific innovation center, an incubation center and a trading center. It is expected to be built into China’s “agricultural Silicon Valley” by 2025.

“This is a big move, a big investment,” said Hartnett. He has been appointed to the expert committee of the park. For the next three years, he will help with working out strategies and building a bridge between Silicon Valley and Nanjing, capital city of China’s Jiangsu Province.

Hartnett said his Chinese partners are interested in Silicon Valley’s ecosystem and the expertise to accelerate the startups that are engaged in improving agriculture and food chain.

MicroGen Biotech, a startup that joined his “Thrive” accelerator program in 2017, is an example for the type of company that is going to be successful in China, said Hartnett.

The company, which applies constructed functional microbiome technology to increase crop yield and health while protecting food safety, has a specific target market in China. It has established partnerships with several Chinese state-owned companies.

Hartnett noted that he sees “two-way opportunity” between the two sides. “We are interested in having access to China, where we can bring our startups solving some of the greatest challenges in agriculture,” he said.

Read more here & here.

California venture, innovation firm to expand to Midwest, partner with Indiana-based entities, advance livestock and plant sciences health

SVG Partners expands THRIVE AgTech into livestock and agbiosciences in Midwest with newest partners National Pork Board, AgriNovus Indiana, Elanco Animal Health, Purdue Foundry and with long-term partner Land O’Lakes

SAN FRANCISCO and INDIANAPOLIS – SVG Partners, a California-based venture and innovation firm, announced Thursday (Nov. 29) the expansion of its West Coast-based THRIVE AgTech program to the Midwest to focus specifically on animal health and support agriculture advancements.

The expanded accelerator follows on the heels of Forbes AgTech Summit held in Indianapolis this fall. The collaboration will build a bridge between THRIVE Silicon Valley and the Midwest with new corporate partners, including the National Pork Board and AgriNovus Indiana, Elanco Animal Health, long-term THRIVE partner Land O’Lakes and with startup services from Purdue Foundry and collaboration opportunities with Purdue University.

Deason ThrivePurdue’s animal husbandry program performs distinct and complementary roles to ensure animal well-being in research, testing and teaching. THRIVE will work with the National Pork Board and other partners to enhance animal husbandry around the Midwest even further. (Purdue University, College of Agriculture photo)

With this expansion, THRIVE aims to develop a targeted pipeline of livestock management and animal health startups, validating and scaling new technologies for the livestock vertical and expand its support of emerging plant science and biotechnology startups

As seen on:

Pork Checkoff Embraces Startup Innovation for First Time with New MidWest THRIVE Accelerator Program

The National Pork Board (NPB or the Pork Checkoff) is partnering with Californian venture firm SVG Partners on its new MidWest THRIVE accelerator program. The Pork Checkoff is partnering alongside animal health group Elanco, Indiana’s agbiosciences promoter AgriNovus, and entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator Purdue Foundry. THRIVE’s existing partner on its Californian program Land O’Lakes is also part of the new program, which aims to focus on animal health startups and foster innovation in the MidWest.

Some of these partners will be investing in SVG Partners’ third fund.

This will be the first time NPB has dedicated resources to focus on new innovation, including the creation of a new job role internally, according to John Hartnett, partner at SVG Partners. NPB represents some 60,000 pork producers in the US.

“NPB made a strategic decision to embrace innovation and technology to improve their industry,” he told AgFunderNews. “For many years, NPB has been funding research in the area of animal health, and their relationship with THRIVE will open this library of research for potential commercialization.”

“Additionally, they recognize that new technology has the opportunity to solve challenges in their industry. Land O’Lakes and new partners like NPB and Elanco have driven our interest in this expansion into the animal health and livestock area,” Hartnett added.

Read more in AgFunder news.

NEWS RELEASE: California venture, innovation firm to expand to Midwest, partner with Indiana-based entities, advance livestock and plant sciences health

California venture, innovation firm to expand to Midwest, partner with Indiana-based entities, advance livestock and plant sciences health

SVG Partners expands THRIVE AgTech into livestock and agbiosciencesin Midwest with newest partners National Pork Board, AgriNovus Indiana, Elanco Animal Health, Purdue Foundry and with long-term partner Land O’Lakes

SAN FRANCISCO and INDIANAPOLIS – SVG Partners, a California-based venture and innovation firm, announced today the expansion of its West Coast-based THRIVE AgTech program to the Midwest to focus specifically on animal health and support agriculture advancements.

The expanded accelerator follows the Forbes AgTech Summit held in Indianapolis this fall. The collaboration will build a bridge between THRIVE Silicon Valley and the Midwest with new corporate partners including the National Pork Board, AgriNovus Indiana, Elanco Animal Health, long-term THRIVE partner Land O’Lakes, Inc. with startup support from Purdue Foundry.

With this expansion, THRIVE aims to develop a targeted pipeline of livestock management and animal health startups, validating and scaling new technologies for the livestock vertical and expand its support of emerging plant science and biotechnology startups.

“Monitoring animal health and preventing animal disease outbreaks is vital to our food supply chain,” said SVG Partners founder and CEO John Hartnett. “We look forward to leveraging our new partnerships with the National Pork Board, Agrinovus Indiana and Elanco Animal Health, as well as our existing partner Land O’Lakes to providestrategic and technical expertise and key resources to startup companies developing technologies for livestock producers.”

SVG Partners launched the THRIVE Accelerator in 2014 to accelerate technology for agriculture with early partners including Taylor Farms, Driscoll’s Berries, JV Smith and western growers. With the Forbes AgTech Summit, SVG Partners recognized the opportunity to expand THRIVE into the Midwest in order to more readily address the geography’s robust livestock sector and biotechnology expertise.

“Working with new local partners in Indiana, we will be able to build on the success of our West Coast-based accelerator in order to deliver targeted technology to livestock farmers in the region and beyond,” Hartnett said.

THRIVE is pleased to welcome the National Pork Board to its AgTech Venture & Innovation Platform. The National Pork Board, funded by more than 60,000 U.S. pork producers and pork importers, centers its industry’s work on reinforcing pork’s role as a sustainable, responsibly raised protein.

“We look forward to working closely with THRIVE to accelerate animal health technologies. This partnership aligns well with our producer’s ongoing efforts to build upon our foundation of providing a healthy, safe, environmentally sustainable product for the food supply chain,” said Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. “Over the past several decades, pork producers have decreased the carbon footprint and both land and water usage. Technology is critical to driving sustainable, efficient production through a commitment to environmental sustainability and animal welfare.”

Elanco, a leading animal health company with its headquarters in Greenfield, Indiana, also joins the program. The company works to provide veterinarians, food producers, and pet owners with the tools needed to help animals live healthy lives.

“We are pleased to see THRIVE AgTech expand into the Midwest, especially at a time when Indiana’s AgBioScience innovation ecosystem is flourishing,” said Aaron Schacht, executive vice president of Innovation, Regulatory and Business Development at Elanco. “We believe programs such as THRIVE can provide a valuable and complementary path for the development of next generation technologies in animal health. We’re looking forward to the opportunities this will bring.”

The program expansion will bring together existing and new partnerships with corporates, academia, investors and startups to foster new AgTech opportunities for the region’s economy.

“Our region is home to a large concentration of livestock producers and animal health-focused corporations, and equally strong in its advancements in the plant sciences,” said Beth Bechdol, president and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana. “We are delighted to bring SVG Partner’s resources and expertise to the Midwest to support the vision of making Indiana the home of globally recognized agbioscience innovation.”

Purdue University is Indiana’s land-grant university with a nationally ranked College of Agriculture and College of Veterinary Medicine. The Purdue Foundry is a startup accelerator that manages the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The technologies coming out of the outstanding research in agriculture, veterinary medicine and across campus support a strong pipeline of technology commercialization and startup creation,” said Greg Deason, senior vice president of entrepreneurship and place making for Purdue Research Foundation. “We are excited by what THRIVE will bring to the Midwest in advancing the entire region’s growth in the agrosciences and agbiosciences.”

Existing THRIVE partners such as Corteva, EY and Trimble already have significant resources in the Midwest and will help to deepen THRIVE’s activity in row crop production agriculture activity there.

As another strategic geographical partner, Purdue Foundry will help to root THRIVE expansion in the Midwest by connecting university talent with THRIVE’s network and resources.

A THRIVE partner since 2016, Land O’Lakes, Inc. is committed to modernizing agriculture through digitalization.

“Over the past several years, we have worked to develop a suite of digital tools through our Answer Tech®platform to help hundreds of row crop farmers optimize their operations by increasingyield potential and reducing risk,” said Teddy Bekele senior vice president and chief technology officer at Land O’Lakes.  “We look forward to working with THRIVE and other Midwest partners to deliver targeted innovation to the thousands of dairy producers we work with in the region.”

THRIVE’s expansion into the Midwest was announced today (Thursday, Nov. 29) during AgriNovus’ fourth annual Agbioscience Innovation Summit in Indiana.

For more information about THRIVE, visit www.thriveagtech.com.


About SVG Partners

Since 2011, SVG Partners has been building a global AgTech innovation platform that accelerates, invests, and works with entrepreneurs, investors, and Fortune 500 food, agriculture, and technology corporations. Founded in 2014, THRIVE AgTech’s mission is to solve key industry challenges, test technologies in the field and across the supply chain, and build partnerships across the ecosystem in order to shorten the time it takes to bring innovation to market. SVG Partners is based in Silicon Valley, California.


About National Pork Board

The National Pork Board has responsibility for producer-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula.


About Elanco

Founded in 1954, Elanco provides comprehensive products and knowledge services to improve animal health and food-animal production in more than 90 countries around the world. We value innovation, both in scientific research and daily operations, and strive to cultivate a collaborative work environment for more than 5,800 employees worldwide. Together with our customers, we are committed to raising awareness about global food security, and celebrating and supporting the human-animal bond. Our worldwide headquarters and research facilities are located in Greenfield, Indiana.


About AgriNovus Indiana

AgriNovus Indiana is the state’s initiative focused on advancing the agbiosciences sector as a nationally recognized leader through education, research and talent development; strategic collaborations among corporations, industry associations, government and universities; the creation and support of new companies; and branding and targeted promotions to elevate the sector. AgriNovus Indiana is part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, an effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. To learn more, visit agrinovusindiana.com.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundryis an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was co-named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship.For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.



About Land O’Lakes

Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2017 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O’Lakes is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking 216 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 97 years of operation, Land O’Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O’Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.





Media contacts:


Emily Breslin, SVG Partners

(650) 666-7521



Colleen Parr Dekker, Elanco
(317) 989-7011