“The farmers who grow our vegetables, fruits and nuts have never faced as challenging of a regulatory climate as they do today,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “It’s now more important than ever to invest in innovation solutions and technologies that will play a crucial role in helping farmers grow more with less. We welcome S2G Ventures as our partner in providing the resources needed to fuel technology that will solve real world problems.”
Five finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of AgSharks, consisting of venture capitalists and fresh produce farmers, during the WG 93rd Annual Meeting in Palm Desert on October 30, 2018. The judges will decide on the spot whether and how much to invest. The entrepreneurs must then accept the offer, negotiate or decline. In addition to investment capital, successful entrants will also receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and WG and potential access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies.
“We are excited to partner with Western Growers for the second consecutive year in finding the next great set of entrepreneurs delivering innovative solutions to the farm,” said Chuck Templeton, managing director of S2G Ventures. “The WG partnership offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn directly about the challenges facing growers. We are excited to invest behind innovative solutions that support more sustainable and nutritious food.”
AgSharks premiered last October, where two agtech startups – Hazel Technologies and AgVoice – received a $2.25 million total investment offer from S2G Ventures. Hazel Technologies, a start-up company that develops products that extend the shelf life of fresh produce, has since raised a $3.26 million Series A round – led by the $2 million contribution that S2G Ventures awarded to the startup during the AgSharks competition. Additionally, the funds from the competition have also played a significant role in enabling the startup to launch 100 pilots with fresh fruits and vegetables growers.
“The outcome of the AgSharks event was a major step forward for Hazel Tech,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and Co-Founder at Hazel Technologies. “S2G’s investment has had great impact in accelerating our business growth and the opportunity to pitch in front of WGA members was invaluable. I think the event is only going to get bigger and better from here out.”
AgSharks is the latest WG effort to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry and support agtech startups in bringing their technology to market. In December 2015, WG opened an agtech incubator—the WG Center for Innovation & Technology—in Salinas, California to provide startups with the resources and mentoring needed to get their companies and technologies up and running. The Center now houses nearly 50 startups.
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