Taylor Farms® Invests in AgTech Innovation, Participates in THRIVE Demo Day

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Thu. June 29th, 2017 - by Robert Schaulis

SALINAS, CA - Taylor Farms, one of North America’s largest producers of salads and healthy fresh foods, is teaming up with THRIVE to further the future of ag tech and promote entrepreneurial efforts that drive innovation in the industry.

Taylor Farms participated in the annual THRIVE Demo Day, held at the CSUMB Salinas City Center on Wednesday, June 28. The THRIVE Demo Day is the capstone event for THRIVE’s eight-week startup accelerator—in which 10 entrepreneurs pitched their agricultural technologies to potential investors, business leaders, and media.

Bruce Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Taylor FarmsCommitment, collaboration, and partnership are the three key things necessary to be innovative,” said Bruce Taylor of Taylor Farms during his keynote speech at the invitation-only event. According to a company press release, Taylor’s speech focused on the continued importance of real time collaboration between technology and farming companies.

Bruce Taylor giving the keynote address

Taylor Farms executive participation this year included:

  • Bruce Taylor, Chairman and CEO, delivered a keynote at the event.
  • Tom Bryan, CFO, was a THRIVE program mentor, provided his council and expertise to ag tech startup UAV-IQ throughout the eight-week competition.
  • Ted Taylor, Head of New Ventures and Business, participated as a Demo Day judge.

From hundreds of applicants submitting to THRIVE’s open call in December of 2016, 10 high-potential startups were chosen to participate in the group’s eight-week program, receiving startup funding, one-on-one mentorship with agriculture and technology executives, office space at the Western Growers Innovation Center in Salinas, California, and a chance to participate in the culminating THRIVE Demo Day event. Technologies in this year’s cohort indicate the massive shifts experienced in the agriculture sector today, covering trends like cloud/SaaS, automated farming, soil and crop biotechnology, and food safety and traceability.

All 10 startup finalists and judges

Participants in the program include:

  • Arable from Princeton, New Jersey
  • AgroSmart from Campinas, Brazil
  • AgShift from Santa Clara, California
  • EZ-Lab from Podavo, Italy
  • Farm Dog from Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Farmwise, from San Francisco, California
  • MicroGen Biotech from Carlow, Ireland
  • Tortuga Agricultural Technologies from Denver, Colorado
  • UAV-IQ from Los Angeles, California
  • 3Bar Biologics from Columbus, Ohio

Joe Gunther, Salinas Mayor (left) and John Hartnett, Founder & CEO SVG Partners (right)

Three finalists were give special recognition during the Forbes AgTech Summit on Wednesday afternoon, for outstanding achievement in categories including:

  • Innovation: Tortuga Agricultural Technologies from Denver, Colorado, is an automated greenhouse production system improves freshness, shortens the supply chain, and enables better genetics, while reducing chemical and water use. Tortuga AgTech integrates labor-reducing robotics and automation, advanced sensing technologies, computational imaging, and a soilless grow system to grow specialty crops in geographically distributed locations, dramatically reducing shipping times and distances, minimizing wastage, and eliminating methyl bromide and other chemicals from the grow-process. 
  • Sustainability: MicroGen Biotech from Carlow, Ireland applies constructed functional microbiome technology to increase crop yield and health while protecting food safety by remediating pollutants and improving soil fertility. Microgen has developed a fast and efficient technology which allows identification of functional microbes in 4 months, as compared to years.
  • Operational Excellence: AgroSmart from Campinas, Brazil connects farmers to a management system that monitors irrigation and other farming decisions with sensors, satellite imaging and weather forecast. Agrosmart improves productivity and optimize the use of resources in agriculture in Brazil, where irrigation consumes almost 70% of the country’s fresh water, 50 percent of which is wasted due to lack of knowledge and insight.

Awards were based on four different criteria, including: mentor feedback, due diligence, accelerator engagement, and quality of pitches on THRIVE Demo Day.

Crowd watching the event

Since graduating from the program, many of the companies from THRIVE’s previous two cohorts have gone on to raise additional capital, become profitable, and deployed product with growers both in Salinas, California, and nationally.

Taylor Farms THRIVE