The Future of Agriculture is Center Stage at Ag Innovation Showcase

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Los Angeles, CA and St. Louis, MO – August 30, 2017 - Trained bees that pollinate specific target crops, snacks that make eating bugs more of a novelty, and sugar without the guilt or health issues and sensing technologies that give real-world advice to farmers are just a few disruptive innovations highlighted at this year’s Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis this September.

“Once again, the breadth and depth of innovations are astounding,” says event partner, Rohit Shukla, founder and CEO of Larta Institute, a Los Angeles-based business accelerator. “All of the companies who made it to the main stage at our showcase have commercial potential.” 

The innovations to be featured at the event cover a wide range of ag issues, including new sources of food, decontamination and disease detection, healthy soil, plants and animals through biological inputs, recycling and reclaiming, genetics, and machine learning through climate forecast applications.

 The conference, which attracts the best and brightest in ag from all over the world, boasts 22 innovations on the mainstage this year to present their products to one of agtech’s most elite groups of industry insiders and find their company’s next big deal.

From September 11-13, professionals from the world’s largest ag companies to early-stage startups convene at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis at the premier ag conference in the U.S. to learn what’s coming up, who’s doing what, and why they should care.

 “This event brings the agtech community together to create synergy between the multitude of products and projects that are contributing to the explosive growth of the industry,” said Sam Fiorello, chief operating officer, Danforth Plant Science Center and president, Bio Research & Development (BRDG) Park. Danforth and BRDG are partners with Larta Institute in organizing the showcase.

 And then there’s the bees.
The decline of bee populations is a widely publicized environmental health threat. Beeflow, an enterprising company from Argentina, promises to pollinate crops and increase yield by “teaching” bees to efficiently pollinate specific target crops. At the same time, they have developed technologies that enhance their immune systems and can reduce hive decline by 70%.

Additionally, the startup Bee Vectoring, offers biological crop protection products, using bees as the delivery system. This approach replaces crop spraying and has shown better yields and less impact on the environment without the use of water or disruptions to labor. Bee Vectoring also showcased at the Ag innovation Showcase’s sister event in Davis, California earlier this year.

“I think it’s important for folks to understand that scientists want to find solutions to problems. If you look at the innovations that were presented at the Ag Innovation Showcase over the last five or so years, you see innovators trying to solve farmers’ problems and address consumers issues,” says Claire Kinlaw, Larta Institute’s ag program director, and event organizer.

New food sources
The startup Aspire offers what folks in the industry call an “alternative protein” product. The company’s recipes are designed to make crickets palatable to the U.S. market, with a packaged snack food in five familiar flavors, including Sour Cream & Onion and Texas BBQ. Crickets are a high protein food source that leaves a minimal environmental footprint to farm.

Bonomuse Biochemis a food ingredient company that produces tagatose, a naturally-occurring monosaccharide. Unlike traditional sugars, tagatose does not increase blood sugar levels or cause tooth decay, and has a low-calorie count. It is clinically proven to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Innovative cell detection
A major innovation for the global dairy industry is currently making way. SomaDetect, a leading artificial intelligence and computer vision dairy company, has developed new methods to detect the presence of progesterone, protein, fat, trace antibiotics and somatic cell counts in raw milk without the need for reagents or consumables. It allows farmers to monitor and manage the reproductive status and health of their herd, while producing the highest quality milk for consumers.

These new developments position SomaDetect to be a market leader in the dairy technology industry, providing a total dairy herd management package in a single piece of equipment. The company has begun piloting this technology on farms in New Brunswick, Canada, and will share more on their newest technology breakthroughs at the showcase.

 Agtech matures
Seven out of 22 companies at Ag Innovation Showcase will present innovations based in machine learning. Similarly, five out of five Spotlights and one panel discussion focuses on this next generation of agtech.

“After the dust settles from the company selection process,” referring to the grueling scoring process for the 80 or so ag innovation hopefuls who apply to the Ag Innovation Showcase each year, “we can see where the trends are. This year it looks like machine learning is the next big leap for ag,” says Rohit Shukla.

“Agtech has been collecting data for some time. Now we are starting to see products that will analyze the data and help farmers make decisions. They aren’t 100% there yet, but investment can help accelerate it,” says Claire Kinlaw.

During its nine-year tenure, 97% of showcase presenters at Ag Innovation Showcase were introduced to new partnership opportunities, and 83% of presenters found new investor leads. $510 million has been raised by presenting companies after presenting at the showcase.

About Larta Institute
Larta Institute, founded in Los Angeles in 1993, is an internationally recognized and mission-driven innovation accelerator that provides a runway of success for world-changing ideas in healthcare, agriculture and energy. Larta Institute has helped more than 10,000 companies transform ideas into commercialized innovations that feed, fuel and heal the world. With a global network of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, industry leaders, research institutions, government agencies and support organizations, Larta conducts commercialization assistance programs throughout the U.S. and in more than 20 countries. Follow us on Twitter

 Donald Danforth Plant Science Center 
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment, and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  To keep up to date with Danforth Center’s current operations and areas of research, please visit, http://www.danforthcenter.org/, featuring information on Center scientists, news, and the “Roots & Shoots” blog. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.

Bio Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park 
Bio Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center helps life science companies bridge research, resources and relationships to achieve commercial success. In addition to providing world-class wet laboratories, office space and a prominent incubator, BRDG Park’s location on the Danforth Center’s campus facilitates access to the intellectual capital of top scientists, as well as to greenhouses, growth chambers, microscopy and proteomics facilities and other vital resources. Located in suburban St. Louis County, Mo., BRDG Park is a development of Wexford Science & Technology, LLC, a real estate company exclusively focused on partnering with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop vibrant, mixed-use Knowledge Communities built upon a foundation of research, discovery, entrepreneurial activity, and commercial collaboration. Follow us on Twitter @BRDG Park

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