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Meet our Innovation New Mexico honorees: Here is the group behind NM’s first agriculture startup program

Meet our Innovation New Mexico honorees: Here is the group behind NM’s first agriculture startup program

May Ortega, Reporter for Albuquerque Business First | May 25, 2017

 

Albuquerque Business First is celebrating the biggest innovators in New Mexico with our second annual Innovation New Mexico event, June 20 at Civic Plaza.

The idea of Innovation New Mexico is to identify, promote and celebrate the state’s innovative spirit. A panel of outside judges has selected 24 Innovation New Mexico honorees. Between now and June 20, Albuquerque Business First is introducing this year’s honorees in alphabetical order.

Name: Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University

Industry: Agriculture technology

Give us your elevator pitch for your product, process or service:

AgSprint is a 5-month startup support and investment program personalized for innovation in agriculture.

What makes your offering disruptive?

AgSprint displaces the established accelerator practice by incorporating the I-corps model into the first five weeks of the five-month program. I-Corps is a National Science Foundation initiative to leverage university research to create new innovative businesses and increase economic impact of inventions created at research institutions around the country. NMSU is one of only 51 academic institutions nationwide to be selected as an I-Corps Site. Graduates of AgSprint receive $2,000 and the necessary National Science Foundation lineage to apply for the $50,000 national I-Corps program.

View all 2017 Innovation New Mexico honorees

Albuquerque Business First is hosting a World’s Fair-style awards event honoring all 24 companies, where they will showcase how they’re changing their industries. There will be street food, music and games, as well as the announcement of a People’s Choice award, to be voted on by guests that night. More information and tickets for the most innovative night of the year can be found here.

The event’s presenting sponsors are CNM Ingenuity and Albuquerque Living Cities.

Denver bug farm dedicated to producing food for humans

Denver bug farm dedicated to producing food for humans

Jeremy Moore, KUSA | May 5, 2017

DENVER – Entomophagy is the technical term for eating bugs, something an estimated 2 billion people around the world do regularly. Not because of an emergency or as a dare, but just as part of their diet.

“Insects were the first animals that humans ate,” said Wendy Lu McGill, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm.

The operation is inside a 40-foot shipping container along Morrison Road in southwest Denver. They raise four species of edible insects:  crickets, mealworms, waxworms and tomato hornworms. All are native to Colorado.

You can see mealworms, tomato hornworms and cricket dishes in this… educational photo gallery.

“We don’t eat them in North America and Europe,” admits McGill. “But outside of Antarctica, we’re pretty much the outliers for not being bug eaters.”

McGill says she understands the difficulty a lot of people have when confronted with bugs in their food. She admits she has not yet converted her children.

“My kids are on a bug strike,” she said. “They will not eat insects in any form, and any time I bake something they ask me before they put it in their mouth if it has insects or cricket powder in it.”

McGill has a bachelor’s in international affairs from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a master’s in international and intercultural communication from the University of Denver. She started the bug farm in 2015, after serving in the Peace Corps overseas.

“There are people who don’t have enough calories, and there are people who don’t have enough nutrition,” McGill said. “And then there are people who don’t have enough of both. And that is just fundamentally wrong.”

She says that is the core of her passion for being an insect farmer and trying to convert more people into being bug eaters.

“It’s a new thing, and to a lot of people it’s a really gross thing,” she said. “And we totally… we get that.”

Still, restaurants and food manufacturers are starting to show interest. The Denver restaurant Linger is one of the first to take the leap.

“North America and the U.S. are pretty much the only culture and continent that doesn’t eat bugs in some form,” said Jeremy Kittelson, Culinary Director for the Edible Eats restaurant group. “So we thought it was natural with Linger again having the street food element and the globalness to try it here.”

Edible Beats operates several Denver restaurants, including Root Down, Ophelia’s, Root Down DIA, Vital Root and El Five, which opened its doors to the public for the first time this week. So far, only Linger serves bugs, but that may change.

“So yes, it is on the agenda to expand that program and get them into more of our restaurants,” said Kittelson.  “If you want to talk about true sustainability, this is the direction that you need to go in.”

Compared to other livestock, edible insects require far fewer resources to raise and are packed with nutrients.

“Crickets have as much calcium as milk by weight,” said McGill. “They have as much iron as spinach and broccoli, also by weight.  And then similar levels of B12 as salmon. So it’s just a really nutritionally-dense food.”

The Chief Operating Officer of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, Kyle Conrad, studied biology and entomology at Colorado State University, and also served in the Peace Corps overseas. He’s in charge of the husbandry and bug care side of the operation.

He says when the bugs are ready to harvest, they are killed the same way they die in nature: in the cold.

“They’re cold-blooded and they just slowly go to sleep and don’t wake up,” he said.

Conrad feeds the bugs with 75% to 90% food waste, such as used grains from breweries and distilleries or apple food waste from cideries.

Conrad says his favorite bugs are waxworms, a common pest for beekeepers.

“They are tasty,” he said. “I have to stop myself from eating them while I’m taking care of them. They have a really delicious kind of creamy, nutty flavor.”

McGill favors mealworms.

“They are really nutty,” she said. “They have a little more fat than crickets. And they’re good in desserts and on savory foods and are just really delicious I think.”

McGill estimates there are about 15 insect farms in North America dedicated to producing food for humans.  RMMR is the only one in the U.S. that is in a shipping container and the only one using food waste to feed the bugs.

It’s also one of the few operating in a large city.

RMMR is also one of six agricultural startups selected to participate in a new business-innovation program at New Mexico State University called AgSprint.

And McGill says when Amazon Fresh comes to Denver, people will be able to have bugs from the Ranch delivered to their home.

Some of the newsroom anchors were brave enough to try the dish. You can see their thoughts in the video here.

 

This Denver Farm Raises ‘Microlivestock,’ AKA Edible Insects

This Denver Farm Raises ‘Microlivestock,’ AKA Edible Insects

 

The Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is not your typical ranch: there’s no cattle or grain for feed. The ranch, which launched in 2015, raises “microlivestock” — crickets, mealworms and waxworms, for people to eat.

 

It operates out of a 40-foot shipping container in southwest Denver and is one of six agricultural startups selected to participate in a new business innovation program at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center called AgSprint.

Wendy Lu McGill is the Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch’s founder and CEO. She spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

 

 

Listen to the full interview here!

NMSU accelerator goes buggy

NMSU accelerator goes buggy

By Lauren Villagran / Journal Staff Writer – Las Cruces Bureau | April 13, 2017

New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center has chosen six startups for its new AgSprint business accelerator focused on developing technologies for next-generation agriculture businesses.

The winning ideas range from an edible insects business to wildlife management systems and high-yield organic farms. The five-month incubator connects agricultural entrepreneurs to financing and investment, academic faculty and corporate partners.

Here are the six startups:

  • Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch aims to bring “microlivestock” to the range as Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm. Rocky Mountain markets edible insects to restaurants and food manufacturers “delicious, nutritious and sustainable food,” according to an NMSU news release.
  • Wildlife Protection Management offers a platform to manage and protect wildlife using non-invasive, humane means. The goal is to make it easier and more affordable to set goals for species populations and habitat health.
  • Ag Coalition has designed a digital marketplace where suppliers, producers and retailers may do business in the agricultural supply chain.
  • Revolution Agriculture creates closed-system, organic farms that produce eight times the yield per square foot, run 100 percent on renewable energy and use less water than traditional farms, according to NMSU. Their goal is to empower communities to solve food insecurity in any environment.
  • Gonzo Farms created the “Eddy 2.0 Vortex Brewer” to boost beneficial microbes and fungi for optimum reproduction in soil.
  • Enchanted Seeds and Sustainable Management offers a management decision platform and certification program that helps agricultural producers identify potential avenues to achieve sustainability in their products, while considering economics and future agricultural production.

AgSprint graduates will receive $2,000 and a chance to apply for the National Science Foundation’s $50,000 grant through its I-Corps program, which leverages university research to innovate new businesses. NMSU is one of 51 academic institutions selected as an I-Corps site.

Funding for AgSprint is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center program and New Mexico Gas Co.

NMSU’s AgSprint accelerator selects first participants

NMSU’s AgSprint accelerator selects first participants

Amanda Bradford, For the Sun-News April 21, 21017

LAS CRUCES — Six promising startup companies that are developing technology in all areas of agriculture have been selected for a new accelerator program at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center.

The AgSprint accelerator, part of the Arrowhead Technology Incubator, is a five-month venture-builder program designed to support innovation in agriculture by connecting agricultural entrepreneurs to financing, demonstration and validation partners, academic faculty, corporate partners and more.

The cohort of participants includes:

• Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, which is bringing microlivestock to the range as Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm. They sell edible insects to restaurants, food manufacturers and anyone daring enough to choose delicious, nutritious and sustainable food.

• Wildlife Protection Management, which offers a platform to manage and protect wildlife using non-invasive humane means, making it easier, more comprehensive and affordable to set goals for species populations and habitat health.

• Ag Coalition, which offers a digital marketplace where all parties, from suppliers to producers to retailers, may review, evaluate, purchase, and otherwise conduct business in the agricultural supply chain.

• Revolution Agriculture, which creates closed-system, organic farms that produce eight times the yield per square foot, run 100 percent on renewable energy, use 90 percent less water, and empower communities to solve food insecurity locally and in any environment.

• Gonzo Farms, which created the Eddy 2.0 Vortex Brewer, which increases beneficial microbes and fungi for optimum reproduction in your soil.

• Enchanted Seeds and Sustainable Management, which offers a management decision platform and certification program that helps agricultural producers properly identify potential products to reach sustainability while considering economics and future agricultural production.

The program’s first five weeks will follow the I-Corps model that tests the feasibility of the venture. I-Corps is a National Science Foundation initiative to leverage university research to create new innovative businesses and increase the economic impact of inventions created at research institutions around the country. NMSU is one of only 51 academic institutions nationwide to be selected as an I-Corps Site.

Graduates of the AgSprint accelerator will receive $2,000 and the necessary National Science Foundation lineage to apply for the $50,000 national I-Corps program. Additionally, applicants will be able to receive up to three micro-grants, valued at $650, to cover the expenses of professional services such as technical writing, website development, counsel on patents and technology licensing, and regulatory consulting. Those who show promise will also be invited to continue the program for the next four months, and will be eligible to apply for investment from the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund focused on seed and early-stage funding for NMSU- and Arrowhead Center-affiliated projects.

Funding for AgSprint is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center program and New Mexico Gas Co.

For more information about Arrowhead Center, the Arrowhead Technology Incubator or the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu.

Chancellor’s Corner

Chancellor’s Corner

By NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center continues to do great work, not just for the university but for the state of New Mexico as well. Earlier this year, the Arrowhead Technology Incubator launched a new program called AgSprint to offer help for companies developing innovative ideas in agricultural technology. Now, I’m delighted to report that from 46 applications from teams based around the globe, six startups were selected for the program. These companies are developing technology in various areas of agriculture and include:
  • Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch – Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, which sells edible insects to restaurants, food manufacturers and others.
  • Wildlife Protection Management – a platform to manage and protect wildlife using non-invasive, humane means.
  • Ag Coalition – a digital marketplace where suppliers, producers and retailers review, evaluate, purchase and conduct business in the agricultural supply chain.
  • Revolution Agriculture – creates organic farms that produce eight times the yield per square foot, run 100 percent on renewable energy, use 90 percent less water, and empower communities to solve food insecurity issues.  
  • Gonzo Farms – created the Eddy 2.0 Vortex Brewer, which increases beneficial microbes and fungi for optimum reproduction in soil.
  • Enchanted Seeds and Sustainable Management – offers a management decision platform and certification program to help producers identify potential products while considering economics and future agricultural production.
The AgSprint accelerator supports innovation in agriculture by connecting agricultural entrepreneurs to financing, demonstration and validation partners, academic faculty, corporate partners and more.

The program follows the I-Corps model to test the feasibility of the venture. I-Corps is a National Science Foundation initiative to leverage university research to create new innovative businesses and increase the economic impact of inventions created at research institutions around the country. NMSU is one of only 51 academic institutions nationwide to be selected as an I-Corps Site.


Graduates of the AgSprint accelerator will receive $2,000 and the necessary National Science Foundation lineage to apply for the $50,000 national I-Corps program. Additionally, applicants will be able to receive up to three micro-grants, valued at $650, to cover the expenses of professional services such as technical writing, website development, counsel on patents and technology licensing, and regulatory consulting.


Funding for AgSprint is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center program and New Mexico Gas Co. For more information, visit
http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/agsprint/
Micro ranches and these other agriculture startups are nothing to chirp at

Micro ranches and these other agriculture startups are nothing to chirp at

By May Ortega / Albuquerque Business First | April 13, 2017

New Mexico’s first agriculture technology accelerator has selected its cohort of startups — and they’re nothing to chirp at.

The Las Cruces-based Arrowhead Center first announced its agtech program, called AgSprint, in February. Of the nearly 50 applications received from around the country and the world, six were selected, five from the Land of Enchantment. The sixth — Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch — hails from Denver and offers an alternative source of protein.

The micro ranch raises and sells “microlivestock” in the form of crickets, waxworms and mealworms. But you won’t find the last two referred as such on any menu. Instead, the startup has created more marketable names for them: galleria and molitos.

Wendy Lu McGill, founder and CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, said the company’s product has been received well in Denver. Since launching in 2015, the two-person team has gained five Denver-area restaurants as customers. Among them is Linger, a high-end establishment that has made headlines for serving the startup’s insects. She hopes to possibly set up shop in New Mexico, creating jobs in the process.

“Crickets are relatively easy to raise,” McGill said. “They’re also arguably the most popular edible insect in North America right now.”

She told Albuquerque Business First the micro ranch has held up to 250,000 crickets at one time. They have seen up to $5,000 in revenues so far, but McGill expects that to increase after the ranch graduates from AgSprint in about four months.

“We’re are learning so much through the customer discovery process and really questioning our basic business theory,” she said.

Raising and harvesting crickets is substantially more sustainable than traditional livestock, McGill said. For example, it takes 22,000 liters of water to produce 10,000 grams of feed to get one kilogram of beef. Alternatively, less than one liter of water for 1,700 grams of feed is needed for one kilogram of cricket protein production, according to the micro ranch’s website.

Bonus fact: RMMR’s microlivestock are usually fed leftover grains from Denver microbreweries and distilleries.

The other AgSprint startups are:

  • Wildlife Protection Management — offers a platform to manage and protect wildlife using non-invasive humane means, making it easier, more comprehensive and affordable to set goals for species populations and habitat health.
  • Ag Coalition — offers a digital marketplace where all parties, from suppliers to producers to retailers, may review, evaluate, purchase, and otherwise conduct business in the agricultural supply chain.
  • Revolution Agriculture — creates closed-system, organic farms that produce eight times the yield per square foot, run 100 percent on renewable energy, use 90 percent less water and empower communities to solve food insecurity locally and in any environment.
  • Gonzo Farms — created the Eddy 2.0 Vortex Brewer, which increases beneficial microbes and fungi for optimum reproduction in soil.
  • Enchanted Seeds and Sustainable Management — offers a management decision platform and certification program that helps agricultural producers properly identify potential products to reach sustainability while considering economics and future agricultural production.

Zetdi Sloan, director of Arrowhead’s Technology Incubator, previously told Business First there has been a greater global need for agtech recently. AgSprint was created to meet that demand, making it the 12th similar program in the country.

New Mexico generates $6 billion in revenue through agriculture alone, according to NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. When food processing is included, that raises the number to about $11 billion.

Team expertise, scalability and potential economic impact were among the top factors judges took into consideration, Sloan said.

“A portion of the review process [for participants] was trying to understand how our resources and assets in this state and within our regional partners’ network would benefit the applicants and their teams,” Sloan said.

The six startups will be awarded $2,000 each if they complete the first five weeks of the AgSprint curriculum, receive business mentoring and space in which to test their products.

At the end of the program in August, the companies could also become eligible to join the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program — called I-Corps — and possibly receive up to $50,000 in funding.

Sloan said the Arrowhead Center will open applications for a health technology program once AgSprint wraps up. The dates for that have not been finalized.

Creating such an accelerator would follow a rising trend in New Mexico, showing a budding spotlight on the state’s health and bioscience industries. Last month, ABQid announced it was going to become a health and wellness accelerator for the next three years. Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law a bill that sets into motion the establishment of an official bioscience authority in New Mexico.

A unique NM startup program is attracting companies from around the world

A unique NM startup program is attracting companies from around the world

Feb 22, 2017 | May Ortega / Albuquerque Business First

In a first for New Mexico, an agriculture-focused startup program is coming home to roost.

New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center in Las Cruces is accepting applications from agriculture technology-related companies around the globe through March 10. Ten companies, regardless of their stage, location or size, will be chosen for the five-month program known as AgSprint.

Zetdi Sloan, director of Arrowhead’s Technology Incubator, said there has been a greater global need for agriculture technology — called “agtech” — recently. AgSprint was created to meet that demand, making it the 12th similar program in the country.

“There’s been a greater emphasis on ag technology around the world that can assist with bringing food to market in a much more efficient way as population continues to grow,” Sloan said. “And because of that, you’re seeing a lot of investment interest starting to pop up.”

Global investment in agriculture technology reached a historical high with $25 billion in 2015, according to Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs Group predicts the market could be worth $240 billion by 2050.

Sloan said NMSU was also receiving requests from all over the state to have an agtech-focused program. New Mexico generates $6 billion in revenue through agriculture alone, according to NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. When food processing is included, that raises the number to about $11 billion.

Sloan stopped short of calling the five-month-long program an accelerator because, she said, companies who merely have a concept or who are on a much larger scale are eligible as well. AgSprint will provide participants with a curriculum, $2,000 in funding and business development assistance.

So far, more than 30 companies have applied. About a third of those applicants, Sloan said, are based outside of the United States. A dozen of them are New Mexico-based, but she added that she would like to see more in-state companies apply as well.

With funding for the initiative coming from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center Economic Development Program and from the New Mexico Gas Company, any applicants outside of the state have to be ready to give back.

“We will only select companies outside of New Mexico that will have some kind of economic benefit to the state,” Sloan said. “We hope that means either relocating and headquartering in New Mexico or establishing teams here.”

Some things Arrowhead is looking for are for-profit companies with a scalable business model and who meet the center’s technology-focused areas, which are outlined on its website.

Arrowhead has partnered with the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, which will provide space where each company can test their products.

Each participant will also be able to pitch to the Arrowhead investment fund, possibly earning them $25,000 to $150,000.

Applications will close March 10 and AgSprint will begin March 31.

Ag Industry Brief: Agtech Accelerators Launch & Expand, Syngenta Launches AI Challenge, Vestaron’s New Hire, more

Ag Industry Brief: Agtech Accelerators Launch & Expand, Syngenta Launches AI Challenge, Vestaron’s New Hire, more

  | Lauren Manning / AgFunderNews

Nuritas Founder Named Woman of the Decade at Women Economic Forum

Founder and chief scientific officer at Nuritas, a digital biotechnology startup, received the Woman of the Decade in Business and Leadership award at the Women Economic Forum EU event at The Hague. Read more about the award at the two-day event aggregating 400 people from around the region here.

Syngenta & AI for Good Foundation launch new AI Challenge to Tackle Global Hunger with Machine Learning

Global agricultural chemical maker Syngenta and the AI for Good Foundation have partnered to launch the Syngenta AI Challenge, a new international competition focused on leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for use in seed breeding. The competition is accepting submissions from applicants who are ready to put their programming skills to the test for the chance to win $7,500.

Rabobank and RocketSpace Add Six Global Corporations to Terra

Terra, a food and agtech accelerator, has added six global corporations to participate in its inaugural cohort.

  • AgroFresh (U.S.A.) – a global horticultural producer
  • Beta San Miguel (Mexico) – a  leading sugar company in Mexico
  • Givaudan (Switzerland) – manufacturer of flavors and fragrances
  • Griffith Foods (U.S.A.) – customized food ingredient systems
  • Grupo Azucarero Mexico/CULTIBA (Mexico) –  vertically integrated sugar and bioenergy company
  • OSI Group (U.S.A.) – value-added protein item supplier for foodservice and retail brands

Read more here.

New Mexico State University Launches New AgSprint Accelerator

AgSprint is a new five-month accelerator program through Arrowhead Technology Incubator at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, which is the economic development engine of the university. Funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, AgSprint hopes to align a vast array of resources to support innovation in agricultural technology. Read more about the program and how to apply here.

Foodworks Shakes Up the Food Space with Digital and Physical Hub to Help Food Businesses Launch

Foodworks, a Brooklyn-based resource has launched offering physical cooking space and digital infrastructure to help nascent food entrepreneurs, is hoping to change how the food industry connects not just businesses, but wholesale buyers, production facilities, and potential investors as well. The company currently operates its first kitchen called Brooklyn Foodworks, a 10,000-sq. ft. incubator kitchen and commissary space in Bedstuy. Read more about the company here.

AgLaunch Announces 2017 Programs, Applications Now Open

Applications are now open for AgLaunch’s 2017 accelerator offering $50,000 of investment. This year, the program has developed three models: AgLaunch Accelerator, AgLaunch Farmer Network, and AgLaunch Startup Station. Learn more about each and apply here.

Vestaron Adds Agricultural Deal Making Expert to Team

Vestaron Corporation has added technology acquisition and business development expert Dr. Andy Renz to its Executive Team. Renz has more than a decade of experience in international deal-making for agricultural solutions companies – both from a multi-national corporation and a start-up company perspective. Read more here.

Judge Rules California Can Require Cancer Warning for Glyphosate Containing RoundUp

A judge in Sacramento ruled that California can require Monsanto to label its Roundup product as a potential cancer threat despite insistence by the St. Louis-based company that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, poses no risk. Read more about the ruling here.

Hormel Catches Heat for Undercover Video Showing Alleged Animal Rights Abuses

An animal rights group released an undercover video this week allegedly showing employees at a pig raising facility beating and dragging the pigs. The facility provides pigs to Hormel, a major pork products maker. Hormel has denied the allegations, but has suspended its purchases of pork from the facility and has sent a third-party certifier to investigate the practices used at the facility. Read more here.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • A lawmaker in Montana is making another push to legalize unpasteurized milk, reports Food Safety News.
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro reports success in hydroponics sector and has no plans to slow down, reports The Cannabist.
  • Impossible Foods plant-based burger is now being served at a Michelin-starred restaurant, reports FastCo Exist.
  • Coconut water maker Vita Coco is rumored to be exploring a sale at a $1 billion valuation, reports Reuters.
  • The rise of Agrihoods could help spawn the next frontier of urban revitalization, says Civil Eats.

Have company news? Email Media@AgFunderNews.com

NMSU’s Arrowhead Center launches AgSprint program to support innovation in agriculture

NMSU’s Arrowhead Center launches AgSprint program to support innovation in agriculture

 | FEB 5, 2017

A new program by New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center is offering help to those looking to develop innovative ideas related to agricultural technology.

The Arrowhead Technology Incubator is launching AgSprint, a five-month venture builder program designed to support innovation in agriculture, early this spring. AgSprint acts as a facilitator, connecting agricultural entrepreneurs to financing, demonstration and validation partners, academic faculty, corporate partners and more.

“The ideal candidate would be someone who is very driven, seeking capital, industry connections and/or development partners, and is who is very passionate about contributing to efficiency and productivity in agriculture,” said Zetdi Sloan, director of Arrowhead Technology Incubator. “Ag tech applicants run the gamut from basic business operations – reducing paperwork, improving productivity and enabling e-commerce – to specialties such as drone and robotic technology for overseeing fields, moisture levels, pesticide and fertilizer usage and equipment, as well as for developing new seed varieties and predicting crop yields and commodity prices.”

Sloan said that the initial three weeks of the program will follow the ICORPS model that tests the feasibility of the venture. Graduates will receive $2,000 and the necessary National Science Foundation lineage to apply for the $50,000 national ICORPS program. Additionally, applicants will be able to receive up to three micro-grants, valued at $650, to cover the expenses of professional services such as technical writing, website development, counsel on patents and technology licensing, and regulatory consulting. Those who show promise will also be invited to continue the program for the next four months. Participants are able to access the program remotely.

AgSprint is of particular importance to NMSU as the university board of regents oversees both the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Rolando Flores, dean of ACES, is supportive of AgSprint.

“One of the college’s priorities is in the area of value added,” Flores said. “AgSprint is a great avenue for our faculty to contribute their knowledge and expertise to advance agribusiness initiatives that can positively impact the economy of our state.”

AgSprint-supported ventures will receive customized support tailored to each entrepreneur’s unique path to business development and financial success. Along with the Arrowhead Investment Fund, AgSprint can tap into private, state and federal funding, curate a list of opportunities and assist with proposal/pitch development to make time-to-market more efficient.

Founded by civic leaders, AgSprint’s mission is equal parts public and private and designed to bridge the gap between what people need and what governments can provide. AgSprint will focus on developing ideas in areas such as animal health and nutrition; bioenergy; drones and robotics; food technology, safety and traceability; and soil and crop technology, among other themes.

By bringing together researchers, regulatory consultants, public/private funders, ag business experts and technical resources, AgSprint offers a wealth of knowledge under one roof.

Funding for AgSprint is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center program and New Mexico Gas Co.

The deadline to apply is March 10. The program will begin in early April. For more information, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/agsprint.