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Six agtech startups selected for Danforth Center/Wells Fargo Innovation Incubatorqrcode

May. 25, 2020

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May. 25, 2020
By Nathan Rubbelke

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) on Thursday unveiled the incubator’s newest agtech cohort, which includes one company from St. Louis.

Each of the six startups selected will be awarded up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding and can use the Danforth Center to advance their research and development operations.

The new cohort is IN2’s seventh and the second for its agtech track. IN2, a startup incubator funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado, in 2018 announced a partnership with the Danforth Center to expand by advancing companies and products focused on the interconnection of food, water and energy.

“The companies selected for Cohort 7 provide a window into the next chapter of agriculture. Their technologies are focused on optimizing efficiencies and scaling sustainable agricultural practices in order to feed a growing global population,” said Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at NREL. “Our partners at Danforth are at the intersection of science, innovation and commercialization, and we’re pleased to connect their deep domain expertise and robust research capabilities with sustainable startup innovations.”

The six startups include:

- AgroSpheres (Charlottesville, Virginia): The startup has developed technology, called AgriCell, that is designed to provide crop protection and reduce pesticide use.
- Chi Botanic (Sarasota, Florida): This company’s technology uses plant cells to make genetically identical plants.
- Mobius (Lenoir City, Tennessee): The company develops biodegradable and compostable materials aimed at replacing fertilizers.
- EarthSense (Champaign, Illinois): This startup has developed technology that incorporates machine learning and robotics to help growers increase yield.
- Pluton Biosciences (St. Louis): This local company has developed a so-called “micromining” process it says allows for inexpensive examinations of microorganisms in soil samples to discover new bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- TerViva (Oakland): The company’s product is climate-resilient pongamia trees, which produces high yields of beans.

The six startups were sourced through the incubator’s Channel Partners, which is a collection of U.S. incubators, accelerators and university programs, and selected by an advisory board.

Founded in 2014, IN2 now has 46 companies in its portfolio. Those startups have raised $313 million in follow-on funding from other sources.

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