Western Growers earns second $30K AgTech Innovation Grant

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Wells Fargo grant will help start-up companies

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IRVINE — In a joint effort to accelerate the development of agricultural technologies, Wells Fargo has awarded Western Growers a $30,000 grant for the second year in a row.

The grant was presented at a private luncheon at the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology during the 2017 Forbes AgTech Summit on July 29.

Last summer, Western Growers received an initial grant from Wells Fargo that was used to create scholarships for start-up companies that were looking to advance their innovations by joining the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology — an agriculture technology incubator in Salinas.

Past scholarship recipients include AgVoice, Ayrstone Productivity, Food Origins, Harvesting Inc, HeavyConnect, Intelligent Wireless Networks, PastureMap, Soft Robotics and Wexus Technologies.

This year’s grant will again be used to further assist entrepreneurs in bringing their technologies from development to market.

Additionally, Wells Fargo, the largest banking and lending organization in the U.S. commercial agriculture sector and a leader in environmental sustainability, will continue to lend critical sector expertise as well as leverage its Foundation to help speed up commercialization for agtech startups.

“Western Growers and the Center for Innovation and Technology are most appreciative of the generous award from the Wells Fargo Foundation to support our agtech innovation efforts,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Science and Technology. “Their support will be key in providing the resources needed to support startups innovating technological solutions to the ag industry’s most pressing issues.”

Start-up companies that are awarded a scholarship will have access to a hot desk or workstation at the Center for Innovation and Technology for one year, and will receive all the benefits of being a Western Growers’ member and resident of the Center. They will have access to routine classes, workshops and networking opportunities — all designed to provide them with the business and legal 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.

Scholarships, which will be funded through the Western Growers Foundation, will be awarded based on financial need, utility to industry, business model and market potential, among other criteria.

The 2,800-square-foot Center for Innovation and Technology currently houses 38 startups and the scholarship will support 10 additional technology companies seeking to receive a coveted spot in the incubator. The Center would not be possible without sponsors and partners such as Wells Fargo.

“Wells Fargo is proud to continue its support to Western Growers and the Center for Innovation and Technology,” said Ashley Grosh, Vice President and Manager of Environmental Philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “The business support and launch pad services these entrepreneurs are receiving through this program is a critical step to ensuring these important agriculture technologies have a strategic path to the commercial market.”