January 4th, 2019
Our first Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Class, in partnership with Cargill and Ecolab, completed our first program this past October.
Applications poured in from 40+ countries resulting in the selection of nine amazing companies from all over the world. More than 100 mentors participated over the course of the program and over 40 venture capital firms met with the companies during 13 weeks of Techstars Farm to Fork.
The nine companies that attended the program represented an incredible breadth of concepts: from restaurant tech to supply chain to manufacturing and digital solutions for farms. Our corporate partners Cargill & Ecolab were both highly engaged in the program, providing invaluable access to subject matter experts and industry executives. This engagement led to POC’s, investment, and ongoing talks with seven of the companies that went through the program, and two of the nine companies are staying in the St. Paul area to further build their businesses and brands within the twin cities ecosystem.
We are excited to continue to support and work with the 2018 class as they move onto the next phase of their entrepreneurial journey. Check out this documentary on the first class of Techstars Farm to Fork to learn more about their journey.
We are thrilled for year two of Techstars Farm to Fork and have already begun meeting companies that are interested in our 2019 class. Applications open January 7th!
In year two of program, we are excited to work with companies building tech enabled businesses, software, or hardware focused on solving global problems in the food world. This includes US-based businesses as well as businesses from other developed nations and emerging markets.
We have a broad scope in focus: on farm, supply chain and logistics, processing and manufacturing, water tech and restaurants, and even companies building platforms for large enterprises! Ultimately, we want to work with great entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds that are working on world-changing ideas. While not a complete list, here are four broad areas of focus for our 2019 Techstars Farm to Fork program:
Labor shortages, safety and the state of technology have all created an environment ripe for robotics and automation across the entire food value chain. Manufacturing, cleaning, pest control, warehouse management, supply chain, restaurants and food production are all arenas where we are interested in exploring solutions.
Food is the largest industry on the planet, estimated at about 10% of the world’s GDP. There are a variety of platforms that may not be “food” specific but can be leveraged by enterprises in food, like Cargill, Ecolab, and their food industry partners. If you are building a tech platform and food companies are an interesting market, you could be a good fit. A few specific examples:
Food safety is a worldwide issue and continues to be a focus for our program. We are interested in digital solutions anywhere in the food value chain from real time pathogen and allergen detection to predictive risk assessments. We continue to be interested in the traceability of food throughout the supply chain, including real-time sensing and monitoring. The utilization of different computer vision and imaging technologies for things like QA, safety checks, and the monitoring of food could have a major impact on food safety and security. We are also interested in the management and reduction of food waste as it impacts food safety, quality, and security.
Water tech is a new area of interest for us in 2019. The food industry uses approximately 70% of the fresh water consumed on an annual basis, so this focus is a natural fit for our program. Specifically, we are interested in technologies that help ensure access to sufficient clean water for those that need it. This could include, but is not limited to, a variety of concepts, including non-invasive contamination monitoring and detection, new methods of conservation, and smart water usage.
From farms to restaurants and retailers, we want to help entrepreneurs build technology with the potential to have a significant impact on the food world. These four buckets are just a starting point, and this is not an all-inclusive list. Check out last year’s thesis, as there are more concepts there that continue to interest us. We will inevitably be blown away by unique concepts we haven’t thought of, so if you have a great team and a big vision we want to hear from you.
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