11 Of The Best Agtech Incubators And Accelerators in North America
Agtech startup accelerator and incubator programs are companies that give aid to founders of startup companies in the agricultural sector. This support is usually in the form of financial capital required to start the business, mentorship, and coaching to impart the necessary business skills and practices for growing businesses from seed stage, into profitable multi-national organizations.
The accelerator programs select a few companies to support from a list of applicants whereby the companies that portray the most potential for growth and profit are usually preferred for investments. The programs are made up of networks of investors, industry experts, and corporations who wish to invest in small companies and grow them into businesses while taking a stake as compensation.
The agricultural sector in the US has seen a tremendous number of technological advancements over the two centuries. At the fall of the 19th century, nearly 50% of the employed population had jobs in the agricultural sector.
As a result of the technological advancement today, about 11.1% of the working population hold jobs in the food, and agricultural industry. Some programs have been designed to increase the number of innovations in this $3 trillion industry and as a result, increased employment avenues for the US population.
In this article, we shall explore some of the notable accelerator programs in the US agricultural sector. If you are more interested in European accelerators and incubators, have a look at our feature focusing on Europe.
TERRA is a food and Agtech Accelerator, founded by Rabobank and RocketSpace. It combines Rabobank’s food and agribusiness leadership and expertise with RocketSpace’s global tech ecosystem. Collaborators include Nestle, AgroFresh, Griffith foods and GrainCrop among others. Its headquarters is in San Francisco, California.
What makes it stand out from other accelerators is its unique model that is rather corporate focused. They are a platform that works towards giving solutions through continuous innovation. Corporate partners work closely with startups to drive innovation in the Foodtech and Agtech sectors. Through the partnerships, startups get an opportunity to test their products in an 8-week pilot phase program.
Benefits include access to a working space and a commercial kitchen space, zero equity requirements, and an 8-week curriculum consisting of workshops and mentoring programs. Requirements include being willing to travel; your startup is ready to launch or already has a product in the market, and preferably be seed funded.
Application Deadline: Applications opened in July, the training program will start this October, Pilot phase in December and the demo day in February 2018.
Plug and play is a food Innovation platform, based in Silicon Valley, California. The accelerator is focused on solving the global drought problem through innovations. PNP brings together startups, VCs and corporations from around the globe to participate in growing the food, agriculture and beverage sector. Partners include Hershey’s, Panasonic, PepsiCo, and Ajinomoto. Other than food and AgTech, they participate in Fintech, Internet of things, Travel and hospitality, Insurtech, Health and Wellness among others.
Benefits include a one-to-one opportunity with executives from around the globe, funding for startups through Angels and VCs, office space, a data center, and partnerships with top local and international universities and other corporates. They select startups that not only reinvent and disrupt but are also continually making improvements.
Application Deadline: Applications are open on a rolling basis, though the current batch is in session.
THRIVE accelerator focusses on solving significant challenges facing the food and agriculture sector around the world. The 10-week program runs in Silicon and Salinas Valleys, California, once a year, comprising of 10 to12 cohorts. So far, 32 startups have benefitted from the program. Partners include Verizon, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Forbes, Thought for Food, and others.
The accelerator works with both seed and growth startups, each with its requirements and benefits. Seed startups are at the developmental stage while growth startups already have a product in the market. Seed startups receive $50K in investments and another $50K in program value in return for 5% equity. Other benefits include working space, legal counsel, and mentorship. At the end of the program, startups have an opportunity to pitch to investors after which the top 3 get awarded at the Forbes’ AgTech Summit.
Growth startups are introduced and hold meetings with corporate partners, and gain an opportunity to receive investment, and form partnerships.
Located in St. Louis, Missouri, The Yield Lab invests $100,000 in technology startups that are revolutionizing agricultural and food systems to achieve sustainability. They have a program where startups meet 6 times a year over a period of 2 to 3 days. These startups each get assigned a Yield Lab Managing Director and gain access to investments, customers, and partnerships.
Application deadline: Available on F6S Platform from 20 September 2017 to 3 November 2017.
They refer to themselves as the “#1 Food Innovation Accelerator in the world”. They are also an investment platform for interested individuals and companies. Selected startups are vetted to instill investor confidence. The startups will receive $50K in funding and have a chance to access convertible loans during the 14-week program period. Other benefits include access to a network of world top investors, entrepreneurs, press, and experts in the food industry. You can also co-work with different groups since you’ll have a shared space. They host innovative conferences and forums in the agriculture and food sector.
Food-X 07 Application Deadline: 31 January 2018
The Kirchner Food Fellowship has partnered with The Hunger Solutions Institute Universities Fighting World Hunger, to create and fund the food program. Select elite student leaders from top North American Universities get an opportunity to make business investment decisions for agriculturally oriented enterprises. The goal is to generate long-term sustainable solutions to growing global food insecurity issues.
Benefits include mentorship and funding for investments. Other partners to Fund the Food are Food Security Group, Kirchner Group, Hunger Solutions Institute, Bonaventure Capital and Kirchner Impact Foundation.
Application Deadline: 2018 to 2019 program applications will open in March 2018
The Good Food Accelerator is specifically for startups based and operated in Chicago only. Any interested startup must conform to the values held by the accelerator with regards to quality of food and practices used to produce them. Selected startups can enjoy benefits such as access to working space, public and private potential sources of funding, a mentorship program, potential consumers, and partnerships. Startups also get to pitch their innovations to farmers and investors during conferences. The accelerator has an interest in startups that focus on running a profitable good food business.
Application Deadline: The 2017/18 cohort group has already been selected. Details regarding application are available online.
Royse AgTech Innovation Network focuses on companies developing new technologies for the food and agriculture sector, and specifically production. It is based in Palo Alto, California. They help startups gain access to partners, markets, and funding. Selected startups will have an opportunity to pitch and hold meetings with food and agriculture companies, farmers and investors. They also organize demo days for startups and Agtech conferences.
Application: You can contact them for details regarding application.
Based in New York City, Chobani is both a food incubator and accelerator. Startups receive a $25,000 grant and access to working capital, equity free. They will also participate in a 6-month program where they will enjoy a working space, access to the community, mentors and networking opportunities. The company looks for purpose-driven startups doing the right thing and that are ready to take the next steps.
Application Deadline: The fall 2017 application has closed. You can subscribe to their newsletter to know the next roll out.
Apart from being a community kitchen, this is a culinary incubator that aspires to help business within the sector to develop, grow, and operate. KitchenCru gives startups access to fully equipped and operational working spaces. They provide support and offer business referrals for services such as legal, marketing, graphic design, banking, insurance and advertising. They are based in Portland.
Application Deadline: Apply through their website. They only accept businesses that have fulfilled their list of requirements, including:
- Hold a business license
- Agreed and signed the KitchenCru Operator Agreement and pricing addendum
- Possess a commercial liability insurance
- Have an Oregon Food Handlers Card
Shoals Entrepreneurial Center is a business incubator focused on launching and helping startups grow. Startups will benefit from a shared working and kitchen space, equipment and access to resources such as a network of experts, partners, mentors, and funding, including Angel’s. Others include online and group marketing events.
They have 4 offices:
- Manufacturing center in Florence
- Professional and creative incubation in Sheffield
- Food and food-related businesses Incubation Center inclusive of an FDA-approved kitchen based in Florence.
- Mixed-use incubation in Florence
Application Deadline: Applications are made through their website.
A number of startup companies have directly benefited from these programs, and some have grown into multinational enterprises. Keep updated on what’s happening on the accelerator scene, find out which ones match your business needs, rendering it suitable for its growth. Subscribe to our newsletter and social media to get the latest.
It’s important to keep updated on the growing number of accelerators/incubators, find out which ones match to your needs and is suitable for the growth of your new business. Subscribe to our newsletter, visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to get the latest info on accelerators and incubators.
Her responsibilities include growing and nurturing our platforms and, occasionally, taking care of bus tickets for the team. In her free time, she can be found on horseback out in the woods.
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