Aug 10, 2022
Tech companies prepare for annual AgSharks competion

Western Growers and S2G Ventures are accepting applications for the 2022 AgSharks Competition.

At the event, 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. Impact-driven entrepreneurs and startups developing technologies that promote a more healthy and sustainable food and agriculture system can apply for the AgSharks Competition at Applications close on Sept. 12.

“With a proven track record of rewarding cutting-edge ag-tech innovators and enabling them to grow their businesses, we look forward to this year’s competitors engaging in a live, spirited back-and-forth with our members on how best to use technology to solve the most pressing needs of our industry,” Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said in a news release. “With its real-world financial stakes for the start-ups and the potential long-term benefits for our members, the AgSharks Competition is one of the highlights of our annual meeting.”

Three startups will be selected to pitch their inventions to a panel of growers, shippers, processors and venture capitalists in front of more than 300 fresh produce farmers and industry leaders during Western Growers’ Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 2-5. The AgSharks finalists will be the only presenting startups featured on stage. In addition to potential investment capital, the winner(s) will receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and Western Growers, potential access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies and access to Western Grower’s expansive network of leading fresh produce companies.

“AgSharks leads as the only pitch competition that offers ag-tech startups an audience with the biggest agricultural companies across the globe,” said Audre Kapacinskas, principal at S2G Ventures. “The combination of exclusive access to hundreds of industry leaders, plus investment capital to fuel growth, are two elements that are crucial for a startup’s success in this industry.”

The inaugural AgSharks was in 2017, and through the competition, past winners Hazel Technologies and Burro have since brought their products from development to market. Hazel Technologies has raised over $87.8 million in funding over six rounds and is advancing the industry with sachets that extend the shelf life of fresh produce by as much as three times. 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.

Photo — Augean Robotics received $250,000 in seed funding at the 2018 AgSharks competition for its Burro. Photo: Western Growers

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