Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Five years after launching, Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology’s startups are making an impact


(Source: WGA website)

March 25, 2021 — Salinas, CA

Five years ago, Western Growers launched its Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT), housed in the Taylor Farms building in downtown Salinas.

WGCIT brings together the ag industry and firms operating in the technology space to actively work on some of agriculture’s most vexing problems.

Agtools has launched its Enterprise Program and is now part of worldwide marketplaces and distribution offerings via hyper distributors with over 6 SKU categories for foodservice, retailers, and large shipper/farming operations across the globe. They provided valid retail data on fruits and vegetables to The Blue Book, which is a produce industry credit service. Martha Montoya of Agtools has been honored to be a member of the editorial panel of Institute of Food Technologists and is a judge in the selection of the 2021 Award in Honor of George Washington Carver. Agtools was invited to actively participate at Global Fruit Latam March 24-26 and was selected to present during the Global conference.

For a large beekeeping operation, sorting and identifying weaker hives takes considerable time and effort. ApisProtect’s technology can enable beekeepers to assess the strength of every hive remotely, prior to travel. From as little as $3 per hive per month, ApisProtect can help you identify which colonies need your attention, ensuring that healthy colonies remain undisturbed and focused on pollination. With every hive labelled and a printed report in hand, this sorting process can be cut down to a fraction of the time. By streamlining the sorting process, the associated labor costs are significantly reduced and enables the beekeeper to transport only strong hives which have a greater chance of surviving the journey. ApisProtect can help you reduce transportation costs during pollination by up to 25%, by minimizing the number of weak hives that are inadvertently transported.”

A first round of funding of $1.35M will allow ChrysaLabs to take further steps in the development of its soil fertility analysis solution. Designed to provide the various agronomic parameters of a soil in real time, ChrysaLabs’ solution is an essential tool for precision agriculture to increase yields and optimize the use of fertilizers. At the cutting edge of technology, ChrysaLabs combines artificial intelligence, optics, cloud computing, as well as a database of thousands of soil samples to provide agronomists and growers with the information needed to make better decisions faster. The result of several years of research and field trials in North America, the solution developed by ChrysaLabs now enables the ag community to better manage soil health and fertility. This funding will allow ChrysaLabs to continue its commercialization in collaboration with stakeholders in the agricultural sector, both in Canada and in the USA.

Concept Clean Energy
Concept Clean Energy is a solar tech innovation company bridging the gap between energy, water and agriculture. The company was recently awarded a patent on their innovative SolarTub racking product that enables solar to float on water or installed on the ground with water ballast at significantly lower cost vs traditional concrete solar footings. The company also has multiple patents pending for their PowerShingle solar roofing product that eliminates the need for metal roofing on traditional agriculture buildings. PowerShingle buildings can be fully energy self-sufficient for less cost than constructing a traditional metal building without solar. For more information, visit

Full Harvest
Full Harvest has rapidly accelerated the development of its online B2B marketplace that connects CPG brands and processors directly to farms to buy surplus and imperfect produce. In 2020, Full Harvest rolled out their Innovation Services as well as their new Verified Rescued Produce verification process, an industry first, with two top 10 global food companies. The company also launched its spot marketplace where produce buyers can now purchase spot produce needs in just a few clicks with an Amazon-like shopping experience. To enable the rapid growth and tech capabilities of its marketplace services, the company welcomed its first chief revenue officer, chief operating officer and head of engineering from prominent ecommerce and agtech companies. Full Harvest closed a pre-B note of $5.75million led by ReThink Impact with significant participation from existing investors. Full Harvest was also selected by Elemental Excelerator and received a $530k SAFE investment.

GeoVisual Analytics
GeoVisual Analytics continues to deliver specialty crop measurement and predictive analysis tools tailored on a company-confidential basis around the individual way each grower-processor operates and the crops they grow. With its core foundation built from work in the fields and work with national research agencies such as NASA, USDA, and FFAR, GeoVisual’s data scientists build information focused to help your team tackle what you see as the biggest problems or opportunities. No canned pitches and no canned products. A lean operation funded by family and friends, it is boots-on-the-ground backed by top-notch scientists, working side-by-side with you and organizations you trust to build tools intended to make your best people even better.

HeavyConnect continues to provide easy-to-use digital solutions for produce growers and facilities to streamline their compliance, training, and labor management. They recently released new functionality allowing users to easily conduct quality assurance or quality control with HeavyConnect. Customers can fill out reports on the HeavyConnect mobile app during a product inspection. The app will automatically calculate the percentage of defects and determine whether the sample meets a predetermined threshold to pass the inspection. This makes it simple to conduct the QA process and gives customers quick access to their inspection documentation.

Hummingbird technologies is an artificial intelligence business that provides advanced crop analysis to its customers by using proprietary machine learning algorithms applied to remote sensing captured imagery. Our expertise provides our customers with early harvest prediction tools increasing supply-side visibility and the ability to drive operational efficiencies within their operations by reducing fertilizer usage and minimizing field waste. Hummingbird has been demonstrating its technology to growers, processors and shippers in Arizona and Mexico and will be starting commercial operations with partners in central Mexico and Salinas in the coming months. Hummingbird was recently selected for FoodTech500, a group of trailblazers re-imagining global food systems, and 4 per 1000, a global initiative to improve soils for food security and climate.

iFoodDS has pledged a $100,000 contribution to the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) as part of its commitment to the produce industry. Supporting CPS is a natural fit for iFoodDS and complements its mission to provide food safety, quality and traceability solutions from the field to the consumer, with solutions optimized for growers, packers, processors, distributors, retail, and foodservice organizations.

Inteligistics continues to expand its value chain offerings as well as its footprint. The first quarter of 2021 has the team working on many different fronts, including on a new program with one of the world’s largest produce companies to help manage cause and effect in one of its new North American supply chains; continued expansion of our footprint into Chile just in time for the start of the high grape season; sustainability metrics, particularly reduced energy consumption and shrink, reducing overall carbon footprints; and expansion of several new standalone elements of our overall platform, including a vacuum cooling management system, a fully automated shipping dock management system, and field truck location monitoring system.

SWIIM is releasing Version 2.0 of its reporting and user dashboard features, which will include interactive crop plan management, enhanced alerts that notify growers as soon as they appear to be under- or over-irrigating and irrigation efficiency trending that allows a grower to see how they are improving ag water use throughout the season. The Ag Center held a webinar in February entitled, “Easily Integrated Dashboard Capabilities” featuring SWIIM.

Tailwater Systems
Tailwater Systems is focused on solving two of California biggest water problems—nitrate contamination and salt releases. Ag Order 4.0 released this year is upping the risk to growers who don’t control nitrate emissions. Their nitrate removal systems can help you avoid regulatory fines. The company is also pleased to report progress in its salt removal system development. These new systems are targeted at removing sulfate, chloride, and sodium. Got high total dissolved solids problems in your runoff? These new systems can reduce cations and anions from any water source—a major step in enabling more reuse of agricultural runoff and reducing overall water consumption. Visit them at to learn more.


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