Western Growers AgSharks

Oct 25, 2023
Finalists named for 2023 AgSharks pitch competition

Three AgTech startups will vie for exclusive access to produce leaders and win funding during the sixth annual AgSharks Competition.

Western Growers and S2G Ventures have announced the three finalists that will compete in the competition. AgSharks is a unique event where startup companies pitch their innovations in front of a live audience of the world’s largest specialty crop producers to win a $250,000 minimum investment.

The finalists are:
•Climate Robotics

AgSharksClimate Robotics is a developer of mobile biochar production systems for commercial agriculture. Biochar is a carbon-negative soil amendment made from waste biomass that helps reverse global climate change. When biochar is applied to agricultural soils, it boosts crop yield, water retention and nutrient retention.

Globally, biochar production has the potential to durably sequester up to two billion tons of atmospheric CO2 in agricultural soils every year, while generating valuable carbon removal credits. Climate Robotics’ trailer-mounted systems allows for low-cost, distributed production of high value biochar directly on the farm, according to a news release.

Cultiva is a global plant cuticle health technology provider. Its products help growers of specialty crops protect their yield from increasing environmental stresses, including those associated with extreme temperatures and untimely moisture events. Crops protected by Cultiva’s technology have reduced incidences of fruit cracking, sunburn, doubling, staining and coloring issues, ultimately improving growers’ overall marketable yield.

Provision is a company whose cloud software simplifies compliance for growers in any commodity, helping them meet requirements from customers, regulators and certifications. By replacing cumbersome paperwork and complex technology with an intuitive interface, automated notifications and smart rules, Provision is helping hundreds of growers across three continents save audit time and improve process control. Tailored for small- to mid-sized operations, Provision’s ease of use and customizable data tools put powerful insights within reach from 200 acres to 20,000.

The startups are scheduled to pitch their inventions to four industry judges and an audience of more than 300 fresh produce growers and industry leaders during the WG Annual Meeting in Kauai, Hawaii, on Nov. 12-15.

The competition will be hosted by Daryl Shelton, executive vice president at RDO Equipment Co., and judged by Briana Giampaoli, head of marketing and product innovation at Live Oak Farms; Audre Kapacinskas, S2G Ventures principal; J.P. LaBrucherie, president of LaBrucherie Produce; and Sumeeta Salvador, an S2G associate.

Western Growers WGA logoAgSharks debuted in 2017. Through the competition, past winners Hazel Technologies, Burro and Nutjobs have since brought their products from development to market. Hazel Technologies raised more than $87.8 million in funding over six rounds and is advancing the industry with sachets that extend the shelf life of fresh produce.

Burro raised a $10.9 million Series A round in September 2021, led by S2G Ventures and Toyota Ventures, and continues to help solve farmers’ labor woes with the expansion of its fleet of autonomous robots to farms across the West. Last year, Nutjobs received an AgSharks record $6 million equity investment for their technology transforming nutshell waste into bioplastics.

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

S2G Ventures is the direct investment team of Builders Vision, partners with entrepreneurs who are working on solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges across the food, agriculture, oceans and clean energy markets. S2G provides capital, mentorship and value-added resources to companies pursuing new market-based solutions that generate positive social, environmental and financial returns.

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