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

 

 

 

270+ Companies from 55 Countries Apply to THRIVE Accelerator 2018-2019 Cohort

Applications to THRIVE’s Seed Accelerator closed October 31 and we are delighted to announce that we received nearly 300 applications from 55 countries. Going into its fifth year, THRIVE continues to expand its presence in new regions around the world with the help of our corporate partners including Coca Cola, Trimble, Heidenhain, Taylor Farms, EY, Driscoll’s Berries, Land O’Lakes, Verizon, Wells Fargo and Corteva Agriscience and global affiliates.

Technologies from applicant companies covered an equal distribution between next gen farms, big data analytics, food tech and supply chain, with robotics and automation, biotechnology and e-commerce solutions representing a smaller but significant share of this year’s cohort pool. The problem areas addressed by these companies include crop protection and nutrition, farm management, labor and food security.

 

In the coming weeks, all applications will be reviewed THRIVE’s SVG team and corporate partners, with ten companies selected to participate in the accelerator program kicking off during THRIVE’s Seed Camp in spring 2019. The ten selected companies will be announced in February 2019.

 

Other THRIVE News:

Registration open for THRIVE Innovation Summit March 27: 
Hosted for the third year on March 27 at Santa Clara University, the THRIVE Innovation Summit will bring together 250 agribusiness leaders, investors, growers, and agtech and foodtech startups from around the world to discuss the challenges and solutions for the agriculture industry. We are pleased to welcome Beth Ford, CEO, Land O’Lakes as our keynote speaker. Agenda topics include Blockchain – ‘Solving Agricultural Supply Chain Problems One “Byte” at a Time’, ‘Mega City Farming – How Indoor and Vertical Farming Can Help Feed the World’, ‘The Potential of Biotechnology – Addressing Critical Food Security Issues’, and ‘Automated Agriculture – Robots From Planting to Harvest’. Register now.

Nominations for THRIVE’s 2019 TOP 50 are open:

THRIVE is looking for agtech startups disrupting the agriculture and food sectors through innovation and technology to be a selected as part of THRIVE’s Top 50. Companies are required to have a product in market and be at least series A+ in order to qualify for Top 50. Nominate now.

The Fast-Growing World of Indoor Farming

The image of the modern-day farm extends from a well-orchestrated landscape of lettuce heads, to a chic building in inner city Newark, New Jersey.

Welcome to AeroFarms, one of the largest indoor farming companies in the U.S. and one of the pioneers of the indoor farming sector in the US. The glass exteriors of the front façade — of what was once a steel mill — reveal rows of leafy greens and micro greens in vertically stacked trays.

AeroFarms is a success when it comes to both its products and fundraising.

According to data provider Crunchbase, since AeroFarms was founded in 2004, the company has raised some $138 million to date. Its high-profile investors include Swedish company IKEA Group, former U.S. Army General David Petraeus and American restauranteur David Chang the founder of the Momofuku Group.The company has 120 full time employees including a robust team of scientists, researchers and engineers mostly based at its Newark headquarters.

But AeroFarms is not an anomaly, it is part of one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture — indoor farming. According to the 2017 Agrilyst report, indoor farming makes up 30 percent of facility type, second to the green house. An estimated 49 percent is grown via hydroponics while 24 percent is soil based.

While the geography of the farms varies extensively, indoor farms share some commonalities.

The majority are in or near big cities where they occupy what were once warehouses. Most of the farms grow micro greens, herbs and baby lettuce or spinach.

These include BrightFarms based in Irvington, New York just north of Manhattan, Freight Farms, Detroit Dirt, Edenworks and SproutsIO.

Funding in the indoor farming space is on the uptick. Indoor farming startups around the world raised $285 million since 2017 with the U.S. leading the pack when it comes to amount of investment, according to AgFunder data.

This past June, for example, Crop One Holdings the parent company of Freshbox Farms signed a $40 million joint venturewith the catering arm of global airline Emirates to build a vertical farm.

The indoor farming boom is also catching on in the Midwest and West Coast too. In 2017 San Francisco-based indoor farming company Plenty Ag received an infusion of $200 million from Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund.

“Following the $200m investment made by Softbank in Californian vertical farming startup Plenty, we’ve seen patchy growth in vertical farming investment,” said Michael Dean, chief investment officer at online venture capital investor AgFunder. “Outside cannabis, new entrants in the production space have generally found raising capital a challenge as investors tended to focus on niche technology developers and the established vertical farms who were able to sufficiently de-risk and prove supply chains were viable, and ready for expansion.”

An hour away by plane Oasis Biotech’s vertical farming facility is thriving in Las Vegas with over 217,000 square feet of 18 varieties of baby lettuce and 10 varieties of specialty herbs.

In the Midwest, 42 percent of farms who responded to the report’s survey are indoor vertical operations and 50 percent are in urban areas, according to Agrilyst.

John Hartnett founder and CEO of SVG Ventures and the THRIVE Accelerator. “We are increasingly on the lookout for startups with technologies that address the increasing constraints to in-field growing, and indoor farming is a category that is demonstrating real efficiencies in this sense.”

Climate change, labor shortage

The genesis of AeroFarms started as a solution to the supply chain, which is infamously lengthy in the agriculture sector.

“Originally, we thought we were about a supply chain disruption. How do we bypass a very complex supply chain and develop a fresher product,” said Marc Oshima a co-founder of AeroFarms and Chief Marketing Officer in an interview with THRIVE.

But the co-founders, David Rosenberg CEO and Ed Harwood, Chief Science Officer, fast learned that they had more in common with traditional growers than initially thought. The growth of indoor farming was also prompted by perennial ag challenges such as limited water supply and a severe labor shortage.

Oshima continued, “We had seen what the macro challenges were — population growth, urbanization, challenges to traditional farming, loss of arable land. We realized we needed some new paradigms, and some new systems. From day one our lens has been very much global in nature.” The company for example uses no soil and 95 percent less water than a traditional farm.

“Our way of growing and systemic growth is really about setting a new standard for farming overall,” said Oshima.

Agtech and indoor farming appear to be a natural match, considering the requirements of indoor farming. Within a contained space there are meticulously monitored conditions, and natural conditions replaced with LED lights and pools of water rather than soil.

AeroFarms keeps all of its innovation and research inhouse, and has its own team of over 30 mechanical and electrical engineers. Oshima stresses the technology, which has included designing their own LED lighting rays, is proprietary.

Other indoor farms such as BrightFarms (THRIVE Top 50 winner) look externally for innovation.

Innovation can include machine learning or AI to “help us understand the growth patterns of our crops as they are growing,” said Abby Prior, Bright Farms Vice President of Marketing.

“We do have some internal development, but we are just looking for the best technology. We are using the tools that are being developed by other startups, and by other agtech technologies to help improve our process,” said Prior.

Technology is “extremely important,” Prior said. “We look to benefit from technology that is available and quickly catching up with the controlled development world.”

At BrightFarms technologies have helped increase efficiency, crop yield and produce quality, she said.

BrightFarms has four operating farms including Bucks County Pennsylvania, Culpepper, Virginia, Rochelle, Illinois and the newest one in Ohio, where the company is expanding its Midwest footprint.

The company uses hydroponic green houses to farm. BrightFarms’ growers regularly work with breeder and seed companies to identity new kinds of greens; for example, a new product launched earlier this year was “Happy Beet” created from the green part of the beet. (top of beets)

Consumer demand

In the grand scheme of things, indoor farming addresses the needs of consumers living metropolises where it is a given that land and water supply are limited.

“The future is that why have lettuce come to New York from California when we can grow it in the metro areas?” said Herbert Kliegerman the publisher of iGrow News, a news website focused on indoor and urban farming. “Indoor farming is controlled environmental agriculture. I see this in every major city.”

Agricultural experts and researchers say that vertical and indoor farming is here to stay, and see it on a growth trajectory globally. Countries such as Japan,known for its limited space in cities such as Tokyo, already have an existing history with indoor farming.

Neil Matson, associate professor at Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science, specializes in researching greenhouse crops and vertical farms.

Matson forecasts there will be more production facilities worldwide, higher valued horticultural crops, and more plants grown for medical purposes. Growth is also being sparked by what he calls the “foodie movement,” consumers who are increasingly keen on locally grown foods, connecting with local growers.

“People seem more interested in the providence of their food, and having a relationship or knowing how their food is produced,” said Matson, noting another drive could be food safety referring to the recent romaine lettuce scares.

This leaves opportunities for more innovation and technology in this space, particularly for robotics and lighting; two of the biggest costs of production on the urban farm remain labor and energy, Matson added.

Agtech entrepreneurs

Some agtech entrepreneurs have jumped on the bandwagon.

Tinia Pina, the founder and CEO of Re-Nuble and a member of the THRIVE IV seed accelerator, launched Re-Nuble in 2016 with the urban farm as the target. Re-Nuble is a supplier of chemical-free hydroponic fertilizer that is produced by organic produce waste. With her product Pina was intent on tackling a greater problem of food waste; Re-Nuble works with partners where they can trace food waste sourced from organic suppliers.

“We saw the demand for it,” said Pina, noting consumers are increasingly more interested in what they are purchasing and consuming.

While the timing for vertical farms seems ripe, Pina also pointed to potential challenges such as cost of real estate, notably in the country’s biggest and most cosmopolitan cities New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Despite the real estate sticker shock in big cities, vertical/indoor farming is also attracting younger people into the game.

Ricky Stephens, co-founder of AgTech X a co-working and educational space in New York City for agtech startups, said the majority of startups are in vertical or rooftop farming. Stephens said there are three drivers that are attracting young innovators: potential environmental impact, positive benefits to health and wellness and “the food — which has a sexiness and fits the Instagram-able world we live in. Finally, urban agriculture bleeds into other emerging niches within the larger sustainable food and smart city movements.”

The road ahead

AeroFarms’ Oshima said the company is interested in technologies that will help in forming what he calls the “fully connected farm.” Without divulging details, Oshima said it involves using various monitoring methods, data, sensors to better understand all aspects of the growing process from flavor, smell to yield with the goal of “continuous improvement,” he said.

To be sure, the vertical farm of the future could mean reducing the time of the harvesting cycles such as shaving a 30-day harvest by half or developing flowers with shorter stems (the company has grown edible flowers).

“We could be 390 times more productive on an annualized basis because of those crop cycles,” Oshima said. “We are also getting greater yield per square foot, and we can get greater output for that.”

AeroFarms currently grows over 400 different varieties of leafy greens.

The fully connected farm is global — extended to cities around the world — and it seeks solutions to global challenges, said Oshima pointing to the heat waves and droughts that have plagued the U.K. and the lettuce shortages in Spain and Italy.

“Technology in a science driven approach has been the backbone of our work,” said Oshima.

 

 

THRIVE Companies Showcase at Forbes AgTech Summit Indianapolis

THRIVE accelerator companies were at the forefront of the Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis last week.

Four agtech startups attended the innovation showcase included Arable, Aker Technologies, Farm Dog and 3Bar Biologics. THRIVE News caught up with the companies and learned of their recent milestones.

AKER

Aker, a member of THRIVE IV’s cohort, has much to celebrate said CEO and co-founder Orlando Saez. In September the company announced new crop and aerial imagery trials with Bayer’s crop science division, which is a leader in seed, crop protection and non-ag pest control. The trials are tracking results from Delaro, Bayer’s new corn and soybean fungicide.

In a news release, said Ray Lello, fungicides product manager at Bayer, spoke of how critical trials are to the product.

“Trials in 2017 found that Delaro provided a substantial yield increase over the untreated check in corn and soybeans. However, we also consistently heard from trial participants that they observed improved plant health from Delaro,” said Lello. “That’s why we are thrilled to collaborate with Aker to track qualitative metrics like plant health in addition to the known quantitative yield results of Delaro over the untreated check in corn and soybeans. Understanding how these benefits help contribute to an overall return on investment is beneficial for growers as they look to get the most out of their corn hybrids and soybean varieties.”

Saez credits his mentor Walt Duflock, managing partner of SVG Partners, for working closely with the company and getting them to the next level.

Arable
Arable, a member of THRIVE’s IV cohort, has been celebrating a productive year.

To start with the company, which produces a weather and plant measurement device, welcomed new CEO Jeff Keiser in July.

Arable also expanded headquarters from Princeton, NJ to Oakland, Calif., and hired another seven employees including engineers.

“We had a fantastic 2018 year – we really scaled up our sales team and solidified customer support. We developed some really amazing partnerships, we brought in new CEO in early July, and now about to hire new engineers,” said Jess Bollinger, vice president of strategic partnerships.

In 2018, Bollinger said, the focus has been on refining the device including improving yield forecast and developing into disease analytics and increasing alerts and notifications on crops

Since Arable’s product launched in June 2017, some 1,000 devices have been deployed in 22 countries globally examining some 26 different crops. It works with 150 customers including Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Ferro, Driscoll’s and The Nature Conservancy. To date, Arable has raised $13.2 million including from grants.

Bollinger credits THRIVE with connecting the company with some of its biggest clients especially with farmers and vintners in the Salinas Valley where agriculture is a $9 billion industry.

“THRIVE has helped build a really important network for us in the Salinas Valley where we have many key customers in that area who have been willing to provide strong feedback that has shaped much of our product development,” said Bollinger.

At Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis, Arable was also one of nine companies chosen as part of Demo Day. During Demo Day and the Summit said they received stellar feedback for the product and ultimately more “brand visibility.”

Farm Dog 

Farm Dog’s CEO and founder Liron Brish said he has had a whirlwind summer.

Farm Dog, a member of the THRIVE IV accelerator that provides pest and disease management scouting platform, is focused on a new round of fundraising (to date the company has raised $2 million).

Brish, born in Israel and based in Tel Aviv, is also amid a transcontinental move and Los Angeles bound to be closer to the agriculture industry. A former consultant in farm harvest with McKinsey & Co., Brish said the company was awarded a number of important initiatives since joining THRIVE.

There’s the partnership with John Deere one of the largest farm equipment manufacturers in the world where Farm Dog’s software connects with Deere equipment to provide data analytics. There’s the $900,000 grant from the BIRD Foundation (The Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation) in Israel that is fueling the company’s research and development. Farm Dog is also working with the USDA, University of Georgia and University of Florida, on building a regional pest disease management program. Brish said Farm Dog is providing the algorithm for the program.

Farm Dog, now in a million and a half acres and has conducted more than 25,000 field visits, also seeks to build out the AI part of the platform next.

Brish said THRIVE helped the company gain even more credibility in the agtech space.

“THRIVE did good job creating a network among startups,” said Brish noting the “connections that THRIVE made to the industry” when it comes to startups. “It’s hard enough being a startup, it’s even harder being an agtech startup,” he said, noting the sector is still fairly new when it comes to investment and acceptance from growers.

3Bar Biologics

Bruce Caldwell the CEO and founder of 3Bar Biologics cited a number of the company’s laurels since it joined the THRIVE Accelerator Program in 2017.

A spin-out from Ohio State University, the company provides natural microorganisms to boost healthier crops with higher yields. 3Bar has been in hiring mode tripling the size of its team to seven staffers including on the sales and marketing front. The company also received a greenlight for its first patent and has completed a seed round of $2 million. Over the summer 3Bar conducted a trial with Land O’Lakes, the connection made through the THRIVE program.

Caldwell said the connections with corporations has been golden for 3Bar.

“There are now a lot of companies in the THRIVE network that connect with other CEOs of young startups, and some of the larger relationships have been very impactful,” he said.

The sky is the limit for the company, he said. 3Bar plans to double sales and staffing annually and expand its reach when it comes to crops and geographies.

Heidenhain Corporation Joins THRIVE AgTech as Latest Partner

SAN FRANCISCO (September 24, 2018) — SVG Partners announced today that the leading manufacturer of precision measurement and control equipment, HEIDENHAIN, is the latest corporate partner to join its THRIVE AgTech Venture & Innovation Platform.

 

The partnership with HEIDENHAIN, a leader of innovative precision measurement and motion control systems for medical, general automation, electronics, and agriculture applications, will leverage the firm’s extensive expertise to advance early stage and growth stage technologies aimed at the agriculture sector.

 

“We are committed to providing functional, easy to operate technology to our customers, and with THRIVE’s view to innovative agriculture technology companies, the partnership with SVG Partners helps us to achieve this,” said Tom Wyatt, HEIDENHAIN Director of Marketing and Communications.

 

“We are delighted to welcome HEIDENHAIN to the THRIVE Venture & Innovation Platform,” said SVG Partners and THRIVE founder John Hartnett.

 

The SVG-THRIVE AgTech platform aims to connect promising startups and partners like HEIDENHAIN with new technologies and scale them across the corporate value chain. In addition to its full suite of encoders, controls and other precision measurement solutions for the manufacturing, electronics and medical industries, HEIDENHAIN is pushing the boundaries of advanced system capabilities through its development of innovation including high performance robotics controls and components in sectors such as agriculture, pulp and paper, forest and wood processing and aggregate and mining equipment.

“HEIDENHAIN is proud to be a member of the THRIVE community and we are looking forward to partnering with the other corporate and academia members,” said  Wyatt. “I don’t think most people realize the global challenges facing the food and agriculture industries. Our goal is to advance the effort with our motion control enabling technology.”

This week HEIDENHAIN leaders Chris Weber, Senior Sales Director and Jonathan Dougherty, Product Manager for Automation Products, along with Wyatt will join the SVG Partners team at the Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Summit, which is being held in the Midwest for the first time, brings together experts and innovators from the food and agriculture industries to showcase new technologies and industry insights.

agtech20ad20final

About HEIDENHAIN
DR. JOHANNES  HEIDENHAIN GmbH, headquartered in Traunreut, Germany, develops and supports motion control feedback solutions for the machine tool, semiconductor, electronics assembly and test, metrology, automation, medical, energy, biotechnology and other global markets. HEIDENHAIN employs approximately 6,000 people worldwide in its core business activities. The North American subsidiary is HEIDENHAIN CORPORATION, headquartered in Schaumburg, IL, and San Jose, CA, and has been serving the U.S. industry for over 50 years. www.heidenhain.us

 

About SVG Partners and THRIVE

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.

www.thriveagtech.com

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Joins THRIVE

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Becomes a THRIVE Corporate Partner to Advance New Technologies in Produce Industry

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

 

Los Gatos, CA, April 26, 2017 — SVG Partners announced today that the global trade body Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has joined the THRIVE ecosystem as a corporate partner. PMA joins­­ other sponsors Verizon, JV Smith, Land O’Lakes, Driscoll’s Berries, Taylor Farms, Wells Fargo, Western Growers Association, the City of Salinas, Panasonic, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory, and Sun World Innovations in a mission to advance agricultural technologies globally. Founded in 1949, The Produce Marketing Association is a 2,500 member association representing the full supply chain of the produce and mass-market floral industry, from seed producer to supermarket.

Leading up to the announcement, PMA’s Chief Science & Technology Officer, Dr. Bob Whitaker coached companies in the THRIVE AgTech Accelerator program as a mentor. Going forward, PMA’s corporate partnership signifies the association’s continued commitment to addressing challenges along the produce and floral supply chains in service of its trade members. “Fresh produce and floral businesses face many labor challenges – scarcity, competition, rising costs and skills gaps, to name just a few” said Dr. Bob Whitaker. “Our members can better compete by leveraging emerging agriculture focused technologies that enable them to work smarter.”

Launched in 2014, THRIVE AgTech is a global innovation platform uniting major agriculture corporations such as Land O’Lakes, Driscoll’s Berries, and Taylor Farms with seed and scaling startup companies. The goal is to prove and commercialize cutting edge technologies for the agriculture sector.

“It is critically important to create constructive and open dialogue between the produce and floral industries and innovators around the world to ensure that our collective energies are focused on delivering solutions that truly meet industry needs,” said Dr. Whitaker.  “Supporting the THRIVE AgTech global innovation platform is an excellent way to reach that objective.”

“Bringing new corporate partner Produce Marketing Association into the THRIVE AgTech ecosystem allows us to broaden our understanding of the problems that persist in the industry, and to commercialize new agriculture technologies we have identified across new market segments,” said John Hartnett, Founder of SVG Partners and THRIVE AgTech. “Partnerships like this are what makes THRIVE an important lever for innovation in industry.”

 

ABOUT PRODUCE MARKETING ASSOCIATION

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.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 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.

Sun World Innovations becomes THRIVE corporate partner to accelerate new ag technologies

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

Media Contact: Sun World Innovations David Marguleas dmarguleas@sun-world.com

 

Los Gatos, CA, April 20, 2017 — SVG Partners announced today that Sun World Innovations has joined the THRIVE ecosystem as a corporate partner joining Verizon, JV Smith, Land O’Lakes, Driscoll’s Berries, Taylor Farms, Wells Fargo, Western Growers Association, the City of Salinas, Panasonic, Yamaha Motor Ventures, and PMA in a mission to advance agriculture technologies globally. The partnership signifies the company’s long-term commitment to nurturing emerging agriculture technology startups and advancing those technologies in the specialty crop sector.

 

Established late 2015, Sun World Innovations is the technology and licensing arm of Sun World International LLC, the U.S.-based producer and marketer of fresh fruit. As part of its overarching mission to supply more and consistent supplies of delicious fruit varieties, Sun World Innovations explores technologies in crop input, water, harvest and labor efficiencies, along with plant breeding. In order to accelerate solutions aimed at real challenges faced by the agriculture sector, Sun World Innovations will work together with SVG Partners’ THRIVE program to identify cutting edge technologies and harness its own extensive horticultural expertise and international licensee platform with growers and marketers globally.

 

“We believe that emerging agriculture technologies will become even more vital to permanent specialty crop agriculture. We’re excited about our new affiliation with THRIVE and believe that it’s dynamic platform is both timely and uniquely suited to helping us and others nurture and support relevant tech start-ups.”, said David Marguleas, President, Sun World Innovations.

 

“We are delighted to welcome Sun World Innovations as the latest corporate partner to join our Thrive ecosystem.  They join an elite group of world class partners as we continue to strengthen our Thrive platform and revolutionize the future of agriculture”

 

ABOUT SUN WORLD INNOVATIONS

Sun World Innovations is the agriculture technology and licensing arm of Sun World International LLC, a California-based agribusiness founded in 1976 that produces and markets seedless table grapes. It was created in December 2015 to shepherd and drive growth of its fruit breeding/variety development, licensing, international investments and agriculture technology pursuits. In addition to guiding Sun World’s own Intellectual Property and licensing activities, Sun World Innovations harnesses the broader agricultural, technology, and international interests of Renewable Resources Group (RRG), the Los Angeles-based firm that acquired Sun World in August 2013. The company is based in Coachella, California with operations in central California as well as offices in Europe, South America, Australia, South Africa and Israel.

 

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.

Banking the Common Good

During his first week as head of CleanTech at Wells Fargo, Matt Servatius wrote out a check for $1m to Imagine H20; the check being one in a series of grants totaling $100m committed by Wells Fargo to the clean energy sector. Born out of the renewable power sector, CleanTech at Wells Fargo has put a total of $67bn to work across early stage, pre-revenue, venture and middle market and large public companies for the past 12 years.

In 2016, Servatius’ team invested in AgTech for the first time. The $100,000 check was written to THRIVE, the global accelerator program scaling and investing in technology companies with solutions targeted to the agriculture sector. “We wanted to identify other big areas of focus that we felt were ripe for innovation and that we could leverage the expertise of the bank enterprise so that led us to AgTech,” explains Matt about the decision to invest in THRIVE. As the most active commercial ag lender for 19 years – right behind the government – Wells Fargo had the enterprise reach and expertise that Servatius recognized could provide valuable lead relationships for companies developing new technologies. As an accelerator with access to hundreds of AgTech entrepreneurs and a strong network with growers and ag companies in Salinas, CA, THRIVE provided Wells Fargo with the opportunity to see AgTech as it developed on and off the field. Servatius describes ‘seeing the buy-in’ of some really meaningful collaborators. “We could see the ecosystem being built and as a THRIVE mentor, I saw the caliber of companies involved. It was impressive.”

Each investment made across the clean technology landscape represents the opportunity for Matt’s team to move beyond “just being a bank or a capital provider to becoming a thought leader” by gaining first-hand insight about the problems that an economy is experiencing and trying to solve for. Matt explains the group looks to provide a bridge which links technology entrepreneurs to growers in order to ensure that incoming solutions are tailored to the real problems the industry is trying to solve: “If we can do [that], we’re in the best position to serve both sets of our customers.”

Matt’s team is no stranger to supporting entrepreneurs beyond capital infusion – the group also designed and hosts the annual CleanTech incubator program, IN2 which provides the country’s most promising CleanTech entrepreneurs with a non-dilutive $250,000 grant, technical support, and access to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory based in Colorado. Working side by side with each of the entrepreneurs in the cohort, the ultimate hope of Matt’s team is that the companies will pilot in Wells Fargo itself. “That’s what entrepreneurs need, that marquee customer like Wells Fargo have a large role in helping drive innovation.

Matt however does not discount the importance of capital in propelling AgTech and broader innovation projects, but does believe that investors must have a long term orientation as far as return horizons are concerned. “Innovation in this sector can’t just come from VCs, it’s got to be all sets of investors, and especially more flexible, patient capital,” Servatius says. “AgTech commercialization is a process which can take up to 3 – 4 times longer than a traditional tech company. When you think about an entrepreneur getting their technology into a grower’s field, a grower is not going to say, ‘here’s 100,000 acres go at it’. They’re going to pilot in increments: perhaps 100 acres in the first season and 1000 the next, so it takes time”.

In the final analysis, Matt believes that investors from VC all the way up to sovereign wealth funds with a 20-30-year horizon must all play a role. Looking forward, Matt is excited about where AgTech will go from here. “We are making tremendous traction in terms of collaboration across the bank and we’re beginning to understand the actual challenges and create the necessary linkages,” he says. All of this geared towards fostering entrepreneurs looking to scale innovative solutions in the most important sectors of the future and putting another $60m behind them to help them do it.

 

Matt Servatius has been with Wells Fargo for over 12 years in various leadership roles, credit and relationship management across technology, CleanTech, general industries and real estate. In early 2015, Servatius assumed responsibility for leading CleanTech banking nationally with 17 team members and offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco. Matt has been a mentor and judge of the THRIVE Accelerator since 2016.