A Reflection from Ag Innovation Showcase – 10 Years Later
By Steve Kahn
What does it mean to be an AgTech startup?
Last week, I attended the 10th anniversary of the Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. That event made me reflect on what it means to be an AgTech startup in a community recognized as one of the most successful innovation hubs in the country.
One thing that’s unique about the AgTech community is the collaborative spirit because all of us have the same mission, and it’s always at the forefront. We’re trying to feed the world.
There’s one number that probably everyone attending the Ag Innovation Showcase has thought about at length over the years: 9 billion. That’s the minimum number of people we’ll need to feed in 2050, and it’s going to take a lot of us being successful to get there.
Looking around the room at Ag Innovation Showcase, I don’t see competitors, I see innovators. We’re working at different companies and we’re all trying to achieve something critical.
Why Ag Innovation Showcase – An AgTech Startup Kickstart
Ag Innovation Showcase has a special place in the NewLeaf story. We presented at the 2012 showcase, as a new AgTech startup. Since then, we’ve:
- Raised $54 million in investment capital.
- Launched a new class of agricultural biologicals, called Terrasym® to help farmers increase yield.
- Forged several important collaborations with large global ag companies and local area colleges.
- Added industry experts to our Board of Directors, including Paul Schickler, former president of DuPont Pioneer.
Ag Showcase was an incredible and meaningful experience for us. It helped us get to where we are today.
In fact, the support of this community is exactly why we (two guys from Boston!) chose to start our company in St. Louis.
And, we’re not alone. Over the past 10 years, this Ag Innovation Showcase has netted some impressive results. Together, presenting companies have raised $1.1 billion in funding.
NewLeaf’s Role in the Ag Tech Startup Community
At the showcase, you meet startups working throughout the ag value chain, and it’s amazing how much alignment there is.
- We want to build consumer trust in the entire Ag value chain.
- We want to embrace and enhance sustainable agriculture.
- We want to meet consumers where they are – and understand what drives them.
- We’re passionate about unlocking the potential of agriculture technology and science.
At NewLeaf Symbiotics, these values guide everything we do.
We believe the Earth’s solutions to better farming are waiting to be harnessed. We envision a world where the naturally occurring microbes can work with existing sciences and agricultural practices – all in the pursuit of sustainable agriculture.
We’re so proud to be a part of the AgTech startup community, a community of collaborators, and specifically as a “graduate” of the Ag Innovation Showcase. That community has embraced us, as have our friends at the Danforth Plant Science Center and BRDG Park. We’ve been able to grow and continue our work because of others, and we’re excited about the opportunity to continue to pay it forward.
Hear Tom Laurita, NewLeaf CEO, Podcast.
I encourage you to read more about the science behind our work, and how it ladders up to important goals in some of our other recent blog posts: