Agriculture Innovation in Salinas Valley

The Lempert Report
May 07, 2015

Innovative entrepreneurs could always use a little help, which is why programs like Thrive Accelerator are so great!

Innovative ideas and innovative companies can often use a little help getting started. Not long ago we told you about the Boston-based company Harvest Automation, a 30-person firm that's making robots do the farm work. Well they were finalists in the Thrive Accelerator Program in the Salinas Valley  - a program designed to give entrepreneurs and start ups mentors in the AgTech  industry,  and access to real-world conditions. 

John Stanton, SVG Partners The Thrive Accelerator Program was a program we kicked off last year at our last Summit with Forbes. And the whole idea of the Accelerator Program is that it’s about innovation and discovery in AgTech. we went out Globally and looked at all and any technologies that had interest in joining and connecting to the industry to the program.  We went through and used the industry experts to judge and see all these top companies.   We used the industry experts to judge and see all these top companies.  And those are all going to be highlighted at our Forbes Summit coming up.  

One of the challenges that we’ve heard when talking to the Ag community as well as the Silicon Valley community is that some of the Innovations that come about really don’t match.  We feel that the connection between Silicon Valley and the Ag Community is critical but having an industry led by the Ag side is the most important, so we started talking to Western Growers and we presented what we’re doing and Western Growers took a leadership role there and wanted to participate in what we were doing. So we have a full partnership for them.  It’s huge in terms of having the right participants in an ecosystem that can actually make a big difference. 

PHIL: And WGA’s CEO and President Tom Nassif told us. “We are entering the era of “precision agriculture” when growers will be better able to identify challenges and implement real time solutions to reduce waste, improve yields, protect resources like water, and feed more people.  Technology is the key.  One way to advance the technological capacities of farming is by supporting start-up companies and new ideas through incubator and accelerator programs that provide resources, mentors and expertise to help idea-generators find investors, grow quickly and deploy new products or services that develop into prosperous enterprises. This is what the Thrive Accelerator does.  Some participants in the Thrive Accelerator are looking for interaction with farms and growers, handlers and shippers to refine their inventions and field-test them. Many of these will be Western Growers’ members. This is an exciting endeavor and an exciting time for our industry.”

JOHN: One of the things we were able to put together is a partnership with Forbes, so Forbes does Reinventing America summits across the country and it’s really about finding innovative things that are going on in different industries.  So the whole idea of it is to bring together top leaders in tech and top leaders in the Ag Industry and really solve some of the challenges that Ag is facing to push the industry forward.