THRIVE Announces This Year’s Top 50 List

With contribution from THRIVE corporate partners Trimble, Wells Fargo, Coca Cola, Driscoll’s Berries, DuPont Pioneer, City of Salinas, Land O’Lakes, Yamaha, Verizon, and others

Media Contact: Emily Breslin, Emily.Breslin@SVGPartners.Com

SVG Partners today announced its THRIVE Top 50, an annual ranking of 50 leading AgTech companies exemplifying the best in agriculture technology around the globe. Recognizing companies across six different technology areas in agriculture- including biotechnology, connected devices, cloud services/SaaS, robotics and automation, predictive data analytics, and next gen farms- the list is the culmination extensive market research, data analysis, as well as vetting and final selection by THRIVE’s corporate partners.

Launched in 2016, the THRIVE Top 50 awards is part of SVG Partners’ corporate innovation program, which brings together major corporate brands like Coca Cola, DuPont Pioneer, Trimble, Land O’Lakes, Wells Fargo and others with promising growth stage companies for pilots and partnerships. Top 50 startups are scouted for exemplary leadership, technology, and traction, and selected based on alignments with specific organizational criteria and industry pain points outlined by corporate partners.

“The year’s honorees span a diverse range of technology types covering everything from accelerated gene editing to novel farming systems to farm management platforms,” said SVG Partners/THRIVE CEO and founder John Hartnett. “The need for agtech innovation is more urgent than ever, and we are delighted to bring these technologists together with our corporate partners to advance the industry.” Next month, the Top 50 companies will be honored at the THRIVE Innovation Forum (Feb. 7, Menlo Park), an annual event bringing corporates, startups, academics and investors together to share industry milestones and opportunities.

THRIVE’s technology categories reflect high level themes in agriculture technology, spanning the field across the supply chain to the consumer:

 Biotechnology: 

Advanced Animal DiagnosticsAgbiomeAgrimetisAnceraApeel SciencesBenson Hill BiosystemsCaribou BiosciencesClear LabsGingko BioworksIndigo BiosciencesInocucorNew Leaf SymbioticsNuritasProviviSafe Traces, and Terramera

Predictive data analytics:

AgribleCeres ImagingDescartes LabsFarmers Business NetworkFarmers EdgeMavrxOrbital InsightPrecision HawkRessonTaranis, and Terravion.

Cloud services/ SaaS: 

AgworldConservisFarmlogsFarmobilePhytechProspera, and Strider.

Connected devices:

ArableCropXHortauSemiosSwiim, and The Yield.

Robotics & Automation: 

Abundant RoboticsEcoRobotixHarvest AutomationMagGrowNaio Technologies, and Soft Robotics.

Next Gen Farms: 

AeroFarmsBowery FarmsBrightFarms, and Plenty.

Planting the Seeds for an AgTech Innovation System

Salinas, California, once had two claims to fame: as “the salad bowl of the world” and as the birthplace of iconic American author John Stein- beck. While these will always be part of Salinas’ identity, in recent years, the city has embarked upon a new mission to harness the region’s agricultural prowess and proximity to Silicon Valley to create an AgTech (agriculture technology) Innovation Ecosystem.

The ecosystem, which received an IEDC Gold Award for Excellence in Economic Development in 2017, focuses on entrepreneurial development, workforce training and marketing in the AgTech industry – a bold task in a largely low-income farming region that once had little to no existing startup culture. This article explains how the city created its AgTech Innovation Ecosystem, what spurred it, how it works, and the successes and lessons learned.

Located in Monterey County on California’s Central Coast and just 60 miles from Silicon Valley, the city of Salinas (pop. 157,380) serves as the region’s economic hub. Home to some of the richest farmland in the United States, the Salinas Val- ley boasts an $8 billion agriculture industry and is the world’s largest producer of lettuce, as well as a top producer of strawberries, broccoli, wine grapes, and other fresh produce. The region is home to agricultural giants such as Driscoll’s, Dole, Taylor Farms, Tanimura & Antle, and Earthbound Farm, to name a few.

Despite its stature as an agricultural powerhouse, Salinas faces many challenges. Educational attainment is low: only 60 percent of the city’s popula- tion has a high school diploma, and just 12 percent achieve a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The community has a large immigrant population: 75 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino, with 68 percent speaking a language other than English in the home. Additionally, more than 30 percent of Salinas’ population is under the age of 18, and the city has lost many of its young residents to the in uence of criminal gangs. Furthermore, due to the seasonality of the agriculture industry, Salinas’ unemployment rate often exceeds 10 percent in the winter.

In 2012, one of the city’s largest non-agricultural employers, Capital One, announced it was closing its doors in Salinas due to a company acquisition. Salinas would lose 869 of some of its best jobs, along with an unknown number of indirect losses. In response, the city of Salinas convened a group of local stakeholders to identify steps to mitigate the loss of these positions and identify a strategy that would promote the city’s long-term economic health. From this group came the plan to leverage the city’s geographic location near Silicon Valley, local industry, and other resources to develop an ecosystem for the AgTech industry.

While it was a local crisis that spurred this initiative, the timing was right based on trends already happening in the industry. Farmers in the Salinas Valley and around the world were already beginning to incorporate more and more technology into their businesses – ranging from automation, to drones, to sensors in the elds. The industry as a whole was changing as farmers recognized that technology could help them solve challenges surrounding labor, sustainability, water, food safety, and growing demands for food as the United Nations estimates that farmers will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 in order to feed the world’s growing population.

An AgTech Revolution In Our Backyard

A historic agriculture community, the City of Salinas is using its biggest asset to drive new opportunities for its residents, and startups around the world

For the past three summers, Main Street in Salinas, California has become the gathering place for corporate executives, startup teams, growers, and academics looking to commercialize the next agriculture technology. Perhaps an unlikely venue for hype usually reserved for the Silicon Valley to take place, Salinas has become the place to grow and scale seed and growth stage agriculture technology startups. But it is its proximity both to growers in the surrounding agriculture sector and startup and VC cluster 40 miles north in the Silicon Valley which give agtech and foodtech companies locating there a strategic advantage.

For all the success of the city’s fledging agtech economy, the infrastructure and strategy behind it are relatively new to city hall.  For decades, the climate and soil of the Salinas Valley have made it been a hub for agriculture production and processing and home to some of the largest specialty crop producers in the world. In 2013 the city faced a major unemployment crisis, as the shuttering of one of its main non-agriculture employers, Capital 1, meant that hundreds of residents were out of work.

The city responded quickly, gathering with SVG Partners and a group of experts across different sectors. City staff then conducted an analysis of Salina’s strengths and weaknesses, ultimately returning to agriculture as an invariable asset. Andy Myrick, economic development director in Salinas, describes how technology came into the picture at that point: “there was a collective recognition that technology was proving to be this huge disruptive force across industries.” Looking back, Myrick recounts that disruption in agriculture had yet to be seen, “and that’s when we saw the opportunity”.

Once defined, the emergence of Salina’s agtech ecosystem was be propelled by the industry players already established in the city. Taylor Farms, Mann Packing, JV Smith Farms, and Western Growers Association all had a role to play in mentoring and guiding new startups and delegations interfacing with the city. Taylor Farms opened its brand new headquarters on Main Street that housed an incubator center on the ground floor, with Western Growers in charge of operating the new center. SVG Partners launched the THRIVE Accelerator, a 10-week business acceleration program attracting businesses around the world to locate and deploy their technologies in the Salinas region.

“The accelerator became the city’s innovation pipeline,” said SVG Partners and THRIVE founder and CEO John Hartnett, “the result of which is nearly 40 startups that can be found in the innovation center today.” Those startups that locate in Salinas and work through THRIVE are able to get meetings despite the industry’s “handshake-based” exclusivity. Myrick says, “In addition to providing new companies with mentorship and investment, THRIVE works as an introduction to a lot of C-level executives in the region.” Startups in the center can also work through the Western Growers Association to access farmers to test and refine their products with intended customers.

While bringing new agtech business into the city has been a key lever of the city’s economic strategy, Myrick does not fail to elaborate on the city’s equal commitment to including Salinas’ local population, a third of which are under 18 and many of which have skills for manual labor, in the agtech development. Together with SVG Partners, the city launched the Kauffman program to help local entrepreneurs and students develop their ideas into businesses. After two successful years that put 50 local residents through the program, the city broadened its efforts to include youth age 8 to 17, teaching entrepreneurship and coding. In early April of this year, the city welcomed Digital Nest, a program that prepares youth by teaching them both technical skills like coding and soft skills useful in managing and growing a business.

The city’s most recent step has been to work with Hartnell college to establish a workforce program bringing together the city’s various programs and partners to provide career pathways in agriculture and technology to the city’s population.

So how was the city able to realize its goal to become a globally recognized agtech hub in 4 years time? Myrick attributes the success of Salinas’ economic development strategy to having figured out what they did really well- in its case, agriculture. “In the end, we are an agricultural town and we have no intention of straying from this,” says Myrick, “and by focusing on where agriculture is going in terms of technology, we can train our workforce accordingly while propelling the industry that is so integral to who we are.”

Predicting Startup Success

As YCombinator co-founder Jessica Livingston has said, “it is really difficult for anyone to predict which startup will wind up becoming a billion-dollar company.” However, while there are certainly not foolproof methods for identifying the next unicorn, we have found that there are important factors that shape startup success, namely:

  •  Is the company’s mission clear and sustainable?
  • Are the founders relentlessly determined
  • And, is the company building something an industry desperately needs or that people love?

For three of THRIVE’s startups from previous cohorts, MagGrow, Nuritas, and Trace Genomics, the responses to these questions are very likely “yes”.

NURITAS

  • THRIVE I Startup Cohort (2015)
  • Team members: 27 and growing quickly
  • Status: Hit multi-million revenue in 2017. Most recently, BASF and Nuritas jointly announced an extremely exciting two part collaboration project ,the first component of which concentrates on the royalty-based commercialization of one of our existing patented peptides. The deep collaboration also focuses on the on-demand prediction and discovery of new peptides based on a number of specific health areas strategically important to BASF and their customers.
  • Stage: Series A

Peptides are found throughout every cell and tissue in the body and are an integral part of most biologic processes. Outside the body, the chains of amino acids comprising peptides are found in food like milk, eggs, and grains. For years, peptides have been cited for their curative, disease reversing properties, but discovery is time consuming, expensive, with a staggeringly low success rate.

Nuritas’ technology speeds up the discovery process to a matter of months and is 500x more than the traditional peptide discovery methods. Using AI and bioinformatics, Nuritas searches through billions of molecules in everyday foods to find and unlock those particular novel peptides that have extraordinary health benefits or that can be used to target specific diseases. In only 12 months’ time, Nuritas has discovered hundreds of patented peptides. Two of these peptides, which regulate blood glucose levels, have been developed with plans to use them to target the prevention and onset of diabetes.

As with any disruptive technology, one of the biggest obstacles is resistance to change. To forge ahead despite this, Nuritas CEO Emmet Browne shared that “we found success by working with many multinational companies that strategically understand that there is a new future possible and massive opportunity in a technology like Nuritas.”

Recently, the company announced its partnership with multinational BASF to grant an exclusive, royalty-based license to BASF to commercialize one of its existing peptides across a number of applications. The second component of the collaboration entails on-demand discovery of new peptides, based on health areas that are strategically important to BASF’s customers and, ultimately, the consumer. What this means for the company is pending regulatory approval, consumers will see Nuritas’ peptide integrated into food products and available on the market by 2020.

This year and next, Nuritas is focusing on bringing in another 30 people, growing the company to 150 by the end of 2018. The company also has its eyes on a Round A, building on its initial funding raised with investors Mark Benioff (Salesforce CEO), Bono & the Edge, and Singapore’s New Protein Capital. Browne said that what has been most valuable in these efforts is finding the right people: “those who really understand the depth and breadth of Nuritas’ reach, will continue to be the key to our growth.” He added, “in order to drive this change, don’t accept the current norm, and be driven in making real change.”

With a passionate and growing team and backing of strategic investors and partners, Nuritas is on track to become the global leader in peptide discovery

TRACE GENOMICS

Trace Genomics: Digitizing the Soil

  • THRIVE II Startup Cohort (2016)
  • Team members: 12
  • Status: Currently testing on thousands of acres of high value fruits, vegetables, orchards, vineyards, and corn/soy
  • Stage: Series A

The microbial ecosystem in the soil is made up of millions of bacteria and fungi which create the support structure for crop roots, meaning that soil health plays an important role in plant yield and quality. While the farmers of today have access to satellite imagery, sensors, software, and fertility testing, there are few tools available to help them understand the soil health of their fields.

Traditional diagnostics for soil pathogens look for one pathogen at a time, are time consuming, and often insensitive to the pathogen as it evolves. Profiling tools on the market today simply depict the profile of the soil without helping farmers connect that to actionable insights and are more expensive. Trace Genomics is a platform that delivers quantitative measurements of microbial populations and connects these insights into actionable recommendations that increase soil health and yield potential.

When the company was just starting, its founders took off-theshelf microbiome tools and soon realized that many of the tools were insufficient as diagnostics and failed to distinguish between pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms. In response, the team developed a set of new pathogen tests, later validating the results of these tests extensively in real production settings.

Launched in July of last year during the Forbes AgTech Summit, Trace’s first product was a pathogen panel for strawberry and lettuce. In the time since, the team has leveraged its growing database and custom machine learning algorithms to deliver several products into the market, including a soil health report that profiles the key ecological indicators of soil health to farms. By digitizing the soil, Trace Genomics is producing innovation at exponential speeds. Through data and software, the company has delivered results to customers and shortened innovation timescales by over tenfold.

Farmers are managing tens to hundreds of fields and acres and are seeing differential productivity or loss of yields between fields and across seasons. Often, making a choice amongst which amendment or management practice to employ at the next season can be difficult because customers have no idea what’s going on underneath the ground. But Trace Genomics is a company shifting agriculture from a reactive art to a proactive science. By mailing in quick soil samples, farmers can receive insights on the effects of various cropping practices and product applications within a few weeks as opposed to waiting until the end of the season.

The road to customer adoption has been inflected by farmers jaded by an inundation of products promising dramatic increases in yield. The team at Trace has successfully made inroads by working closely with key R&D groups, agronomists, and academic researchers to test, iterate and build proven technology. Regarding their success, Diane Wu, co-founder of Trace Genomics said, “I think the industry has taken notice that we are delivering the most scientifically backed technology on the market.” Partners like the Western Growers Association in Salinas, California have been strategic partners to Trace Genomics as well. Together, the two launched the Soil Microbial Health Initiative to build a comprehensive report for participants, develop new tests for new crops, and expand the offering to brand new customers.

When asked for her advice for startups beginning their own journey, Diane said “Focus for a startup is everything. The things you don’t work on are more important than the things you chose to work on. It’s important to never lose sight of your big vision but to plan out specific milestones to get there. Stay focused on what matters: making your customers happy.”

MAGGROW

Maggrow: Bringing Drift Control to Spraying

  • Team members: 100 staff over the next 12 months and 50 worldwide now including 8 in the USA and Canada with more planned
  • Status: We are targeting $10M in revenue in the US this year. We are scaling the business in the US through a number of key distributor partnerships and OEMs
  • Stage: Pre-Series A

A line of insight came from MagGrow’s CEO’s brother: based on his research, existing pesticide spray technologies for crops were a compromise between application coverage and drift control. What this amounted to was 70% of conventional pesticide spraying is wasted. Based on this evidence, MagGrow was established.

On a broad basis, Pesticide spray drift is a major problem facing farmers worldwide so it was clear a sustainable solution to the problem was needed. Under future environmental and food constraints, producers will need to find more sustainable methods to grow food, to maximize their scarce resources and to make their production systems more effective. MagGrow’s system uses finer droplets that deliver better coverage while managing drift. For the user, this equates to less waste and more easily meeting environmental and regulatory compliance.

With MagGrow’s tractor boom product, farmers can retrofit their current sprayer boom with the company’s system. After retrofit, customers typically have a six to ninemonth payback. For smaller production environments, MagGrow’s backpack have a a typical return on investment of 3-6 months. Trials of the MagGrow system in the Netherlands showed more than 25% chemical savings and water rate reduction, more than 20% disease reduction, and more than 10% yield improvement. In the U.S., trials have shown a 37% reduction in chemical and water waste.

After 3 years of development and working with leading customers and regulators, MagGrow was launched into the market earlier this year. Since then, the company has seen sales in excess of $1M, with another $9M projected this year.

Speaking about key partners, CEO Gary Wickham said, “our access to strong mentors in Dole UC Davis, and extended network through THRIVE was key.” The opportunity has meant that “in 12 short months we have established technical and sales teams in California, the Midwest and Canada.”

3 companies honored as THRIVE III Winners, Announced at the Forbes AgTech Summit

Forbes AgTech Summit Honors Tortuga AgTech, Microgen Biotech, and Agrosmart as Agriculture Technology Companies Furthering Innovation, Sustainability and Operational Excellence

Media Contact: Emily.Breslin@SVGPartners.com

 

Salinas, Calif., June 29, 2017— Startup companies AgrosmartMicrogen Biotech, and Tortuga AgTech were announced last night as the winners of THRIVE’s Operational Excellence, Sustainability, and Innovation awards during the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit. Brazil-based decision support company Agrosmart received THRIVE’s award for Operational Excellence, Ireland-based microbiome platform technology received THRIVE’s award for Sustainability, and Colorado-based automation company Tortuga AgTech received THRIVE’s award for Innovation.

 

SVG Partners Founder and CEO John Hartnett presented the awards to each of the three companies on the Forbes main stage as the first day of the summit came to a close. “Not only do these three companies have technology that will disrupt the agriculture industry, but they also have founders and teams that we are confident will make it happen,” he said.

 

The award ceremony was the culmination of THRIVE’s 10-week accelerator, which began in April and ended yesterday morning with a demo presentation featuring the ten companies from this year’s cohort. Demo day, the hallmark event of the THRIVE accelerator program, provides startups the opportunity to showcase their solutions to a broad audience of investors, corporate partners, and local and national media. Each startup pitch was scored by THRIVE’s corporate partners Taylor Farms, Land O’Lakes, Western Growers Association, Driscoll’s Berries, Wells Fargo, JV Smith, Sun World Innovations, City of Salinas, and Produce Marketing Association.

 

THE WINNING COMPANIES

 

Each of the three winning companies this year demonstrate the myriad ways that technology applications will disrupt the industry’s standard practices to make agriculture more efficient and sustainable in the future. 

Agrosmart

Founder: Mariana Vasconcelos

Irrigation consumes almost 70 percent of Brazil’s fresh water and almost half is wasted because farmers lack knowledge of when to apply it and in what quantity. In order to improve productivity and optimize the use of resources in agriculture, Agrosmart connects farmers to a proprietary management system that monitors irrigation and other farming decisions with sensors, satellite imaging and weather forecast. Agrosmart’s renting model includes hardware, maintenance and software for an annual fee of ~$20K with a ~3.5x ROI for the farmer in the first season. For more information about Agrosmart, please see here.

Microgren Biotech

Founder: Xuemei Germaine

A large amount of agricultural land that is stressed and polluted is still utilized for food production, especially in developing countries, which impacts food safety and crop production. Microgen Biotech applies constructed functional microbiome technology to increase crop yield and health while protecting food safety by remediating pollutants and improving soil fertility. Microgen has developed a fast and efficient technology which allows identification of functional microbes in 4 months; a process which can typically take up to years. While onstage at Forbes, Founder and CEO Xuemei Germaine said, “we have demonstrated that globally, our technology can bring down toxic pollutant levels found in food by up to 50 percent.”For more information about Microgen Biotech, please see here.

Tortuga AgTech

Founder: Eric Adamson

Tortuga’s fully automated greenhouse production system improves freshness, shortens the supply chain, enables better genetics, and reduces chemical and water use. The company integrates labor-reducing robotics and automation, advanced sensing technologies, computational imaging, and a soilless substrate system to grow specialty crops in geographically distributed locations, dramatically reducing shipping times and distances, minimizing wastage, and eliminating methyl bromide and other chemicals from the grow process. Tortuga’s systems translate to a reduction in grower costs by 20% and an increase in growing density by 25%.For more information about Tortuga AgTech,please see here.

 

ABOUT THRIVE AGTECH

Founded in 2014 by SVG Partners, THRIVE is a vibrant AgTech venture and innovation platform connecting cutting-edge agtech and foodtech startups with technology and agriculture executives and investment and field trial opportunities. As a response to growing concern over food security, labor shortages, environmental stewardship, and the availability of energy, water, and land resources, THRIVE’s Open Innovation program, Seed Accelerator program, and venture and advisory services were created to help innovative technology companies disrupt, scale and lead in the global AgTech market.

www.thriveagtech.com

ABOUT SVG PARTNERS

SVG Partners is an investment, technology and advisory firm that partners with organizations on strategy, innovation and global expansion.  Since 2007, SVG’s experience team of senior technology leaders and venture capital investors have worked with global corporations and scaling companies to drive competitive advantage from strategy to implementation.  Through its executive strategy and advisory, SVG Partners helps build and scale innovative technology companies worldwide.  SVG Partners is based in Silicon Valley, CA.

www.svgpartners.com

SVG & THRIVE Announce $1m investment in Third Cohort

THRIVE AGTECH HOSTS ITS THIRD SEED CAMP THIS WEEK BRINGING 10 COMPANIES FROM 5 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES TO ACCELERATE THE NEXT CLASS OF CUTTING EDGE AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGIES

Media contact: Emily Breslin, Emily.Breslin@SVGPartners.Com

April 11, 2017, Salinas, CA– Entering its third consecutive year, the THRIVE AgTech accelerator announced today that it will invest a total of $1m across the ten companies participating in its third cohort.  Each of the ten companies will receive a $50k cash investment plus an additional $50k in program value.  With corporate partners Taylor Farms, Land O’Lakes, Western Growers Association, Verizon, Driscoll’s Berries, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory, Panasonic, Wells Fargo, the City of Salinas, PMA, and Sun World Innovations, THRIVE AgTech has quickly evolved to become the world’s fastest growing agtech-focused accelerator and investment platform.

During the course of THRIVE’s intensive 8-week program, companies will be provided both classroom and online training in business planning, strategy, marketing, supply chain, finance, fundraising and communication skills.  Through THRIVE, the 10 seed stage companies will have access to expert guidance through a paired mentorship program, co-working space at the Western Grower’s Innovation Center in Salinas, CA, field trials with THRIVE’s corporate partners, global press and media during the Forbes AgTech Summit Demo Day, and seed capital. THRIVE mentors and corporate partners will interface with each of the ten company teams to propel agriculture towards a more sustainable, efficient, and productive future through direct collaboration, field trials, and eventually, partnership.

“Last year’s winners Trace Genomics received a $200k investment but this is the first year we have invested across the entire cohort class” SVG Partners CEO & THRIVE founder John Hartnett said, “we are excited to scale these startup companies to the next level through our THRIVE AgTech platform, partners and mentors”

Held for the third consecutive year in downtown Salinas at the Taylor Farms headquarters, Seed Camp brings together THRIVE corporate partners, mentors, and new cohort companies for a day of presentations and discussions centered on the future of agriculture. In the days following, the ten startup teams will take field tours to Hahn Winery, Taylor Farms, Driscoll’s Berries, and the Flex 9 Lab in the Silicon Valley.

 

Introducing the THRIVE III cohort- 2017

Arable

Headquartered: Princeton, New Jersey

Arable enables agricultural enterprises with real-time continuous visibility and predictive analytics of crop growth, harvest timing, yield, and quality based on in-field measurement.

 

Agrosmart

Headquartered: Campinas, Brazil

Targeting the LatAm market, Agrosmart monitors environmental conditions in real time to empower growers to make better decisions and achieve more productive and sustainable agriculture.

 

AgShift

Headquartered: Santa Clara, CA

Blending machine learning with computer vision with the mission to design a fully transparent and digitized food system.

 

Deeplook

Headquartered: San Francisco, CA

Deeplook builds robots that work autonomously in fields, can distinguish between various types of plants and growth stages, and can mechanically act on targeted plants through proprietary algorithms.

 

EZ-Lab

Headquartered: Podavo, Italy

EZ-Lab is a digital hub to manage, certificate and share agri-information, which integrates every type of data coming from a company’s information system, with the purpose of eliminating the operation of data insertion by farms and the whole agribusiness production chain.

 

FarmDog

Headquartered: Tel Aviv, Israel

Farm Dog changes the way growers choose, use, and purchase pest and disease treatments. Treatment efficacy reviews, regional alerts, and variable rate treatment application provide growers with a new toolkit to manage their fields.

 

MicroGen Biotech

Headquartered: Carlow, Ireland

Microgen Biotech utilizes patented isolation and high-throughput screening methods to isolate functional, high-performance microbiomes for application in agricultural crop production and environmental remediation.

 

Tortuga Agricultural Technologies

Headquartered: Los Gatos, CA

Tortuga AgTech builds digital horticulture facilities, which take the most advanced greenhouse growing methods and wrap them around powerful technology like robotics, automation, precision data analytics and machine learning.

 

UAV-IQ

Headquartered: Los Angeles, CA

UAV-IQ is a full service data management company that leverages cutting-edge remote sensing and drone technologies for agriculture clients.

 

3Bar Biologics

Headquartered: Columbus, Ohio

3Bar Biologics is dedicated to applying disruptive technologies to create ecologically sound products that sustainably increase yields and protect farmer’s investments in land and seed

 

ABOUT SVG PARTNERS

SVG Partners is an investment, technology and advisory firm that partners with organizations on strategy, innovation and global expansion. Since 2007, SVG’s experienced  team of senior technology leaders and venture capital investors have worked with global corporations and scaling companies to drive competitive advantage from strategy to implementation. Through its accelerator and open Innovation programs, engineering and development services, and executive strategy and advisory, SVG Partners helps build and scale innovative technology companies worldwide. SVG Partners is based in Silicon Valley, CA.  www.svgpartners.com

ABOUT THRIVE AGTECH

THRIVE AgTech’s mission is to connect the expertise of tech companies to on-the-ground knowledge of agricultural companies, the financial backing of investors, and the entrepreneurs solving problems in the AgTech space. THRIVE unites these communities in order to drive the development and adoption of sustainable technology enhancements necessary for securing the global food demands of the future. The THRIVE program targets two stages of companies, the very early to commercially ready. Early stage companies accepted into the program go through a rigorous bootcamp and receive mentorship from industry leaders to help them scale their companies. THRIVE’s Open Innovation program directly connects corporate partners with high growth startups to trial and deploy cutting edge technologies focused on agriculture.

 

  

For more information:
Emily Breslin, Community Relations, THRIVE AgTech
Emily.Breslin@SVGPartners.Com
650-666-7521

What Lies Ahead for AgTech

IN CONVERSATION WITH MATT DAVIS, THRIVE ADVISER & SVG PARTNER

Matt Davis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mateva Capital, LLC, which provides strategic financial advisory services to companies principally involved in the energy, power and mining related industries. Prior to founding Mateva Capital, LLC, he successfully led several major Wall Street investment banking efforts in the Americas, Europe and Africa. These firms included Credit Suisse First Boston and its predecessor firm Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), as well as Drexel Burnham Lambert and Bankers Trust Company. In 2001, Matt acted as a principal adviser to the California State Assembly during the state’s energy crisis. Since founding Mateva Capital, LLC in San Francisco in 2002, Mr. Davis has been actively working with a wide variety of companies principally involved in the energy and power industry. He has acted for numerous companies as strategic advisor, seconded executive, non-executive board member and chairman. Mr. Davis is a graduate of Harvard College where he majored in physics.

Q: Tell us about your experiences working in the energy and power industry as CEO of Mateva Capital—were there any lessons you learned in these sectors that you apply to your investment strategy?

I formed Mateva Capital in 2002 after nearly two decades of advising, raising capital and investing in the energy and power industry while based in New York, London, Johannesburg and San Francisco. I founded Mateva Capital with the goal of working even closer with specific companies on achieving long-term strategies and making strategic investments. This has included working as strategic advisor to numerous power companies’ CEOs and boards, serving as a seconded executive for one client, and serving as non-executive board director for several others and most recently chairman of a solar power manufacturing company. The power industry is characterized by its capital intensity and cautiously slow adoption of new technologies. As an investor, patience and understanding of that cannot be understated as many VCs unfortunately have learned recently.

Q: Can you provide an overview of what occurred in CleanTech (its audacious promises versus its returns) and how what happened in CleanTech (setting visionary goals and the lure to investors) is a cautionary tale to AgTech investors, entrepreneurs, the ecosystem?

As a banker to the electric utility industry in the 1980’s, I participated in the evolution of what is now called the “CleanTech” industry. At Drexel and DLJ, we were early investors and capital providers to the Independent Power and Renewable Energy industry. This included IPPs such as AES and Calpine and the nascent solar energy companies. In the 1990’s, this expanded to various other forms of more diversified renewable energy companies providing efficiencies, reliability and storage potential. I think the VC community first coined the term “CleanTech” in the early 2000’s as a way of justifying entrance into what was perceived as a new undiscovered investment arena. In my view, the VC community and other new funds established to invest in “cCeanTech” did not have an appreciation for both the capital intensity and slow adoption rates of new technologies by the major participants – namely the highly regulated electric utility industry. I see many parallels between investing in the electric utility industry and the Ag industry. Neither are “new” and both are cautious to adopt new technologies due to their relatively low risk appetite. In my view, industry validation and patience are critical success factors characteristic of both industries.

Q: Why now? What confluence of factors of underlying trends led to the significant increase in investment in AgTech and more generally- the attention being paid to agriculture? 

One cannot ignore the macroeconomic demand for the production of food with the limited resource environment. The macro challenges are well known: water scarcity, land availability, labor shortage and safety concerns – with the need to essentially double food production in the next several decades. This must be met by efficiencies driven by technological advancement in this more traditional lower technology industry.

Q: What do you see the growth potential across the agriculture value chain being? The growth potential is across the entire value chain from “farm to fork”?

Improving yields, asset productivity and sustainability will be key drivers in my view with life sciences, information technology, precision farming and supply chain enhancements to solve these challenges.

Q: Where will AgTech investors find the best exits? Is IPO the right path for AgTech companies?

For the foreseeable future, a vast majority of exits will be completed through the M&A process. This is due to a variety of factors that are not specifically Ag related. The public IPO market has essentially been closed for some time except for more mature companies with established track records. And the few AgTech companies that have managed to go public have vastly underperformed which unfortunately affects the entire sector. In addition, many of the new AgTech companies are just too small for the major players in technology or agriculture to spend significant management time or resources, as they don’t contribute in a meaningful way to revenue or profitability in the near term. Hence, the role for private equity to fund these companies until they reach a certain level of maturity until they can be financially accretive to the major public companies. The potential acquirers in technology, chemical, food and equipment represent some of the largest companies in the world with combined market capitalizations in excess of $1tn and in many cases will pay far greater amounts due to their liquidity and equity currency than the public market in any event.

What is the best timeframe for an investor to come in? How do you ensure that choke/ or limit the progression of an AgTech company?

2017 should be an excellent time for new investors. There has been a flurry of recent AgTech investment activity in 2015 and 2016 with limited exits to date. This has many early investors concerned and some VC types are showing early fatigue. Often being the first mover is not an advantage as I witnessed firsthand in the power industry. Investing in AgTech will be a marathon, and not a sprint. The more patient and strategic prospective investors are, the more likely they will experience meaningful returns. Prospective investors that have to have a deep understanding of the industry dynamics to be successful.

What role does non VC capital have in agriculture? As a more ‘patient’ form of capital, is it better suited to the long view of agriculture?

Again, this will be a marathon, and not a sprint. There should be solid investment opportunities for patient investors. SVG Thrive fund’s strategy is to work with its established network of leading industry participants to both identify and validate potential investments. Several of these leading industry participants are also founding investors in the SVG Thrive fund. Through this network, SVG Thrive will not only help guide these young companies but also seek to “pull through” with revenue and/or preferred supplier arrangements within the established network. This strategy is a major differentiator between the traditional more passive VC capital and the SVG Thrive fund as an active strategic investor providing meaningful value thus increasing the probability of success.

Announcing the THRIVE Top 50

50 agtech companies shaping the future of agriculture

Media Contact: Emily Breslin, SVG Partners, Emily.Breslin@svgpartners.com

San Francisco, Jan. 16, 2017 – SVG Partners today announced its THRIVE Top 50 annual ranking of the 50 leading AgTech companies around the globe, honoring companies exemplifying the best in agriculture-focused innovation. Recognizing companies across 6 different domains within agriculture- biotechnology, connected devices, cloud services/SaaS, robotics and automation, big data & analytics, and supply chain & infrastructure- the list is a result of direction and input provided by SVG Partners corporate partners Verizon, the City of Salinas, Land O’Lakes, Western Growers Association, Taylor Farms, Yamaha Motor Venture & Laboratory Silicon Valley, Driscoll’s Berries, Panasonic, JV Smith, and Wells Fargo.

Thrive AgTech, founded in 2014 is an ecosystem founded by SVG Partners that brings entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, farmers and major corporations together to solve global challenges facing the Agriculture and Food Industries.

SVG Partners works with large corporate partners to classify pressing problems from the field to consumer and identify external innovators suited to these unique challenges. After successfully working with 22 seed stage companies as part of its 8-week accelerator program, SVG Partners launched its corporate Open Innovation Program in 2016 to unite agriculture corporations with Series A+, scaling companies to proactively address labor, consumer safety, water and resource constraints, crop and soil health, and other challenges facing producers.

 

THRIVE 50 is one of SVG Partner’s most significant Agtech community efforts.  The list is the culmination of six months of interviews, surveys and discussions with corporate partners to define specific pain points facing agriculture companies and create a framework to identify promising agtech companies. Based on the input provided by corporate partners in 2016, companies selected were required to fall within Series A-C, have a product in-market, have paying customers and have a solution in biotechnology, cloud Services/SaaS, big data analytics, robotics & automation, connected devices, or supply chain & infrastructure.

 

THRIVE Top 50 companies will be recognized at the THRIVE Innovation Forum on February 1st at the Quadrus Center, Menlo Park, CA.

 

“The awardees this year highlight a variety of companies making strides in generating solutions that bring the industry closer to understanding the immense volumes of data it generates, better environmental stewardship, better crop resilience, and consumer safety,” said SVG Partners Founder and CEO, John Hartnett, “these companies represent a powerful opportunity for the agriculture sector to produce food more sustainably, efficiently, and safely than ever before.”

 

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Advanced Animal Diagnostics

California Safe Soil

Caribou Biosciences

Cool Planet

Epibiome

Gingko Bioworks

Indigo

Provivi

Nuritas

Terviva

 

CLOUD SERVICES/SAAS

Agworld

Conservis

Farmobile

Granular

HydroBio

Prospera

Strider

Tambero

 

BIG DATA & ANALYTICS

AgerPoint

Agrible

Agronomic Technology Corp

aWhere

Descartes Labs

Farmer’s Business Network

Farmer’s Edge

Farmlink

Mavryx

Orbital Insight

OnFarm

Precision Hawk

Resson

Understory

 

ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION

Autonomous Tractor Company

Harvest Automation

H3 Robotics

Soft Robotics

 

CONNECTED DEVICES

AutoAgronom

Itk

CropX

Hortau

Moocall

N.io

Swiim

Tule

 

INFRASTRUCTURE & SUPPLY CHAIN

AeroFarms

Bright Farms

Freight Farms

Label Insight

Lumigrow

MagGrow

 

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ABOUT SVG PARTNERS

SVG Partners is an investment, technology and advisory firm that partners with organizations on strategy, innovation and global expansion. Since 2007, SVG’s experienced team of senior technology leaders and venture capital investors have worked with global corporations and scaling companies to drive competitive advantage from strategy to implementation. Through its accelerator and open Innovation programs, engineering and development services, and executive strategy and advisory services, SVG Partners helps build and scale innovative technology companies worldwide. SVG Partners is based in Silicon Valley, CA.  www.svgpartners.com

 

ABOUT THRIVE

THRIVE AgTech’s mission is to connect the expertise of tech companies to on-the-ground knowledge of agricultural companies, the financial backing of investors, and the entrepreneurs solving problems in the AgTech space. THRIVE unites these communities in order to drive the development and adoption of sustainable technology enhancements necessary for securing the global food demands of the future. The THRIVE program targets two stages of companies, the very early to commercially ready. Early stage companies accepted into the program go through a rigorous bootcamp and receive mentorship from industry leaders to help them scale their companies. THRIVE’s Open Innovation program directly connects corporate partners with high growth startups to trial and deploy cutting edge technologies focused on agriculture.

Agriculture and Technology Leaders Gather in The Heart of Silicon Valley to Advance The Future Of Agriculture

Menlo Park (February 1, 2017) – SVG Partners host their THRIVE AgTech Innovation Forum to advance pioneering agtech innovations and forge new partnerships across technology and agriculture.

The forum brings together entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, corporates and farmers to discover the technologies that are changing the way we grow food today and in the future. The event includes featured speakers such as Mike Macrie, CIO, Land O’Lakes; Bruce Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Taylor Farms; Kevin Murphy, CEO, Driscoll’s Berries; Karen Caplan, CEO, Frieda’s Specialty Produce; Sean O’Sullivan, Managing Partner, SOSV, Food-X; Michael Teel, CEO, Raley’s; Saida Ruscitto, Product & New Business Innovation IoT, Verizon Wireless; and George Kellerman, COO, General Partner, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley.

The forum will feature the top 50 most innovative companies exemplifying the best in agriculture-focused innovation and 11 of those companies will present their solutions ranging across big data & analytics, biotechnology, cloud services, connected devices, robotics & automation, and supply chain & infrastructure:

·       Agronomic Technology Corp. | Cloud-based recommendation platform for farmers and agronomists

·       BrightFarms | Pioneering the future of local, low-impact farming

·       Strider | Precision agriculture platform for pest control

·       Resson | Bioinformatics and data analytics company, delivering customized agriculture solutions for large corporate clients

·       MagGrow | Magnetic Spraying System

·       PrecisionHawk | Fully autonomous UAV performing low altitude aerial data collection and subsequent data management and analysis

·       Advanced Animal Diagnostics | Developing diagnostic products to cure on-farm animal diseases

·       Granular | Software and analytics platform that helps farmers operate more efficiently and make better business decisions

·       AGERpoint | Redefining data acquisition, analysis, and translation for growers

·       Soft Robotics Inc. | Opening new markets to automation through the application and commercialization of proprietary soft robotics technology

·       Caribou Biosciences | Technology-based biotechnology solutions for cellular engineering and analysis based on the CRISPR-Cas9 technology platform

 

“The 2017 THRIVE AgTech Forum explores how leaders today across agriculture- from the field through the supply chain to the consumer- are working new technologies into our food system to achieve greater efficiencies, environmental stewardship, and consumer safety,” said John Hartnett, Founder & CEO, SVG Partners.

“California farmers are collaborating to accelerate technology development and deployment. The Thrive AgTech Innovation Forum helps nurture and speed this process of discovery,” said Chairman and CEO, Bruce Taylor, Taylor Farms.

Since 2014, SVG Partner’s unique agtech accelerator platform, THRIVE, has supported seed and scaling agtech startups by providing well-resourced mentors from leading agriculture and technology companies, deployment, and investment opportunities. What began with the vision of transforming the the city of Salinas into a world renowned agtech hub has flourished to become an ecosystem of over 800 agtech startups, mentors and corporate partners.

“The Thrive AgTech Innovation Forum provides the most diverse ecosystem of any AgTech event globally. This event is the only place where all of the strategic stakeholders in AgTech: venture capital, private equity, innovators, universities, startups, established agribusiness companies, corporate farms, distributors and growers can get together and discuss the future of agriculture. Through the fostering of these connections, we are able to very quickly see the progress of innovation, whether it is ready to be applied to our crops and markets, and determine whether we can partner with others to bring these solutions to our member-retailers and America’s farmers in a more expedient way” said Mike Macrie, Chief Information Officer, Land O’Lakes.

The THRIVE AgTech Innovation Forum is presented by SVG Partners in collaboration with partners Taylor Farms, Land O’Lakes, the City of Salinas, Wells Fargo, Western Growers Association, Panasonic, Verizon Wireless, Yamaha Motor Ventures and Laboratory Silicon Valley, Driscoll’s Berries, JV Smith, Raley’s, Softvision and Hahn Winery. Follow along by using the hashtag #THRIVEForum @THRIVEAgTech on Twitter.

 

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ABOUT SVG PARTNERS

SVG Partners is an investment, technology and advisory firm that partners with organizations on strategy, innovation and global expansion. Since 2007, SVG’s experience team of senior technology leaders and venture capital investors have worked with global corporations and scaling companies to drive competitive advantage from strategy to implementation. Through its accelerator and open Innovation programs, engineering and development services, and executive strategy and advisory, SVG Partners helps build and scale innovative technology companies worldwide. SVG Partners is based in Silicon Valley, CA.  www.svgpartners.com

ABOUT THRIVE AGTECH

THRIVE AgTech’s mission is to connect the expertise of tech companies to on-the-ground knowledge of agricultural companies, the financial backing of investors, and the entrepreneurs solving problems in the AgTech space. THRIVE unites these communities in order to drive the development and adoption of sustainable technology enhancements necessary for securing the global food demands of the future. The THRIVE program targets two stages of companies, the very early to commercially ready. Early stage companies accepted into the program go through a rigorous bootcamp and receive mentorship from industry leaders to help them scale their companies. THRIVE’s Open Innovation program directly connects corporate partners with high growth startups to trial and deploy cutting edge technologies focused on agriculture.

THRIVE Alumni Update: California Safe Soil Saves Farmers Money, Combats Food Waste

The following statistic may or may not come as a surprise: “consumers, businesses, and farmers spend $218 Billion a year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing 62 million tons of food that never gets eaten.” (ReFED) Dan Morash, CEO of California Safe Soil, a graduate company of THRIVE’s first accelerator cohort, has the technology to mitigate half of this. Today, the CSS technology is diverting uneaten food’s route to the landfill by recycling and returning it to the soil where it stimulates growth and prevents fertilizer runoff.

“We take all of it [food waste], and put it in the soil where it stimulates growth and sequesters carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the environment”. Harvest to Harvest, the company’s flagship product could be considered a modernized version of technology dating back to early Americas, when Native Americans would use fish byproducts to fertilize maize crop. Today, at CSS’ facility, the process occurs by mechanically grinding, heating, and enzymatically digesting food collected from recycling partners, producing an organic amendment containing amino acids, fatty acids and sugars that soil organisms and plants thrive on.

All of this dramatically reduces the tons of food slated for landfills each year by working with recycling partners across the entire food chain. In addition to supermarkets, the company targets growers with off “spec” produce left in the field during harvesting, food processors, institutional players such as stadiums, schools, and hospitals, and hotels. In lieu of the other half which CSS does not have the capability to process- residential- Morash urges composting, anaerobic alternatives.

Once processed, California Safe Soil’s microbially rich organic matter is delivered to growers to use as a crop amendment. While CSS works with 13,000 acres of farmland within California, even greater opportunity lies ahead for the company. Because farmers work predominantly with macronutrients like fertilizer and insecticide inputs, supporting soil health is often overlooked which places a degree of separation between California Safe Soil’s product and its intended users. What Morash explains though, is that Harvest to Harvest is a complimentary product which fortifies the soil, working with the soil to retain water and fertilizer inputs and prevent them from running off through the root zone and into aquifers. What’s more, existing CSS customers have seen their plants manifest more root growth, flowering and fruiting. Ultimately, the CSS product pays for itself by displacing the cost of crop inputs used by growers and yielding more robust harvests.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TECHNOLOGY IN ACTION

Already CSS has partnered with major players like supermarket retailer Save Mart and the Sacramento Kings Golden 1 Arena, delivering Harvest to Harvest amendment product to 13,000 acres of specialty crop farmland in California. The company is rising to the food waste crisis by returning uneaten food back to the land, thereby sequestering the volumes of greenhouse and toxic gasses that are emitted each year as a result of food’s decay in landfills, while also boosting plant growth and reducing chemical runoff from reaching water supplies. Save Mart alone could supply 90,000 acres, and there is much more that can be done.  CSS hopes to accelerate its growth, and play a meaningful role, recycling organic matter and increasing the sustainability of agriculture.