AgSharks Pitch Competition offers $250K in startup funds

The fifth annual AgSharks Competition will give entrepreneurs and startups that are developing technologies to promote a healthier and more sustainable agriculture and food system the opportunity to win $250,000. Companies will pitch their innovations in front of a live audience of specialty crop producers during the Western Growers Annual Meeting in Las Vegas from Nov. 2 to 5.

The event is put on by Western Growers and S2G Ventures; interested parties can apply here until Sept. 12.

“With a proven track record of rewarding cutting-edge agtech 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,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “With its real-world financial stakes for the startups and the potential long-term benefits for our members, the AgSharks Competition is one of the highlights of our Annual Meeting.”

»Related: Get excited about the future of agriculture with the rise in AgTech conferences

Three startups will be chosen to compete and pitch their inventions to a panel of growers, shippers, processors, and venture capitalists in front of over 300 fresh produce farmers and industry leaders. The AgSharks finalists will be the only presenting startups featured on stage. In addition to potential investment capital, the winners will receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and WG, possible access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies, and access to WG’s expansive network of leading fresh produce companies.

“AgSharks leads as the only pitch competition that offers agtech 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.”

Past AgShark winners

AgSharks was first held 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 by expanding its fleet of autonomous robots to farms across the west.

»Related: From the microbiome to the sky, technology helps ag go greener

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