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Food Origins receives scholarship to advance AgTech development

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(Contributed)

February 14, 2017 — Salinas, CA

[Editor’s note: Santa Cruz Tech Beat published Q&A: Nathan Dorn, Food Origins, on solving growers’ problems, August 24, 2016.]

Western Growers announces first set of scholarship winners; seven scholarships still available

Western Growers has selected three start-up companies to receive a Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology® Scholarship: AgVoice, Food Origins and Wexus Technologies. Each winner will receive invaluable resources to support their growing businesses and advance the development of their innovative technologies that will be crucial to the sustainability of agriculture.

“Our scholarship is one of the first scholarship programs of its kind, and we were impressed with the caliber of applicants we received during the first round,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology. “We, along with Wells Fargo, are proud to support the entrepreneurs and companies who are developing significant technologies that will help agriculture feed 9.3 billion people within the next 30 years.”

Wells Fargo Bank awarded Western Growers Foundation a $30,000 grant last July to establish a scholarship fund for agtech startups. Ten scholarships, each worth up to $3,000, will be awarded; seven scholarships still remain. All startups interested in applying can view the full scholarship requirements and apply here.

The scholarship will underwrite the cost of a “hot desk” (non-reserved workstation) or defray the costs of a desk within the Center for Innovation & Technology for one year. Recipients will also receive all the benefits of being a Western Growers’ member and resident of the Center, including access to prominent networking opportunities with leading fresh produce companies; ample exposure to agricultural-related organizations throughout California, Arizona and Colorado; training and mentorship from industry professionals, including legal, HR, insurance, financial and communications experts; routine classes and workshops designed to provide startups with the knowledge and customer connections they need to bring their technology from development to production. They will also be offered the amenities of a traditional office, including internet and phones, printers and copiers, meeting and conference rooms, and cutting-edge technology to live stream events and presentations.

Information about the three start-up companies selected to receive the scholarship are as follows:

  • AgVoice: AgVoice provides a voice-to-data, workflow management service for food and ag professionals. By combining a uniquely tailored industrial-grade voice-enabled user experience with a cloud-based proprietary analytics platform, AgVoice enables users to achieve verifiable fast inspections, reporting and workflow management for the agri-food supply chain more accurately than existing outdated processes. These accurate, actionable insights can improve yield, reduce risk and optimize sustainable use of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
  • Food Origins: Food-Origins will significantly improve the efficiency of the $20B hand harvested fruit industry with the single click of a precision data collection system. The ability to collect actionable data for hand-picked, high-value specialty crops will bring the benefits of precision agriculture to this industry. Those benefits include the three main components of farm decision-making: obtaining relevant data, acquiring insight through analysis, and enabling efficient management. Captured with one click of a low cost handheld device in the field, Food Origins offer precision harvest data in real time.
  • Wexus Technologies: The Wexus team has built the world’s first “early warning system” for the ag industry that alerts growers to actual costs and potential equipment problems of their irrigation systems in real time. By accessing smart meter technology in the cloud, the Wexus (Water-Energy-Nexus) software platform makes the most complicated utility data simple, usable and actionable to empower growers to save money, time, energy and water.

About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California and Colorado. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.

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