The WGCIT Celebrates Its One Year Anniversary, Bruce Taylor Comments

Thu. January 19th, 2017 - by Jordan Okumura

IRVINE, CA- Yesterday, the Western Growers Association Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) celebrated its one year anniversary. Taylor Farms, a member and sponsor, hosted a celebratory event for the occasion at the Taylor Farms building. The WGCIT is positioned to bring entrepreneurs together with farmers to find solutions to the challenges facing the industry; acting as an agtech incubator working with some of the brightest innovators in agriculture such as, Aaron Enz of Alta Energy and Mike Dodson of Lotpath.

Bruce Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Taylor Farms

Bruce Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Taylor Farms also spoke on his experience with innovation, commenting, "It's easy to be skeptical, it's takes time, it takes resources, and it takes bandwidth, but it's important to do. It's important for our community in terms of being stewards of our resources. It's important for our industry in terms of our future."

The event featured entrepreneurs collaborating with farmers on current and future technologies, as well as leaders from the agricultural industry and the City of Salinas speaking about the development of agtech and networking with agtech leaders.

Hank Giclas, Senior Vice President, Western Growers

"We are proud of the achievements we, and our startups, have accomplished thus far and have found our footing to create a solid foundation for the Center," said Hank Giclas, Western Growers Association Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Science, and Technology, according to a statement.

The WGCIT first opened its doors on December 10, 2015 with six agtech startup companies. Over the course of a year, the organization has transformed into a hub of collaboration, now housing 27 startups.

Taylor Farms' Bruce Taylor and Western Growers' Hank Giclas posing with Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter celebrating one year of WGCIT

Other milestones over the past year include:

  • Launching arguably the first scholarship program of its kind, providing scholarship winners with residence at one of the country's premier agtech incubators designed to assist start-up companies who are developing agricultural technologies.
  • Developing an initiative with Trace Genomics (one of WGCIT's residents) the launch a Soil Microbial Health Initiative, assisting farmers in understanding how soil biology is a key factor in crop productivity, disease susceptibility, and crop quality.
  • Creating a partnership with SWIIM (one of WCGIT's residents) to help farmers conserve more water and simultaneously earn money for the water they do not use.
  • Crafting a program of regular classes and workshops to help startups bring their technology from development to production.
  • Assisting and providing resources to help the agtech start-up companies housed in the WGCIT to develop new technologies, including HeavyConnect's Pesticide Use reporting tool, iFood Decision Sciences' data management app called "The Toolbox" and more.

The WGCIT’s solutions-oriented approach strategy includes hosting short sessions that highlight specific tech innovations that address targeted industry needs; connecting with other incubators and accelerators; solidifying ties with academia; and more formalized trials and beta testing with the Western Growers community.

Former Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue with Bruce Taylor at WGCIT

"During this first year, the Center has grown organically and going forward we are going to take a more solutions-oriented role," said Giclas. "We have engaged Dennis Donohue, former Mayor of the City of Salinas, and under his leadership we plan to zero in and seek out agtech startups who are developing technologies that solve the industry's most immediate needs."

The WGCIT shows no signs of stopping, with plans to further agtech excellence throughout the local community, state, nation, and industry. Key targets include solutions to issues surrounding water quantity and quality, technologies that focus on mechanization to provide relief to labor challenges and food safety innovations.

What other innovative solutions will the industry see next? Stay tuned with AndNowUKnow for the latest!

Taylor Farms Western Growers Association