Salinas, CA -- After a successful first year, the Thrive Accelerator program (thriveaccelerator.com) has seen a doubling of applicants for its second class. By the deadline of Jan. 31, nearly 200 agtech startups had applied for one of 10 slots in the eight-week Thrive program, which includes mentoring, strategic consulting, matchmaking with technology users, pitch training and a demo day.
The most promising of the applicants will be invited to a March 23 "Seedcamp" pitch session, after which the top 10 will be chosen by a jury that will include industry experts, investors and Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz.
San Jose-based SVG Partners (svgpartners.com) will help selected startups secure funding. Winners will also be recognized at the second Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit, to be held in Salinas July 13 and 14.
Last year's first place Thrive winner was Nuritas (nuritas.com), a company focused on "the discovery of novel and natural active ingredients with scientifically proven health benefits."
"Winning the Thrive Accelerator award delivered in so many ways," said Nuritas founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Nora Khaldi. "However, two vital areas stand out above all others. Firstly it provided Nuritas with the oxygen of great publicity throughout the full arena of our key national and international stakeholders. It then also provided invaluable connectivity at the highest levels of industry through ongoing face-to-face opportunities. Thrive Accelerator and Salinas have been true rocket fuel to Nuritas."
The Thrive Accelerator is a part of a strategy developed by the City of Salinas and SVG Partners to establish Salinas as an agtech capital. That strategy is based on building an ecosystem for agtech business development based on the region's existing strengths: land, climate, knowledge, its status as an ag capital, and its location in one of most innovative parts of the world. The strategy's components include education; research; access to investors, customers and partners; marketing; and active assistance to promising startups.
Thrive's accelerator program is one form of that assistance; another is the incubator established by the Western Growers Association in the new Taylor Farms Building. The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology comes with an initial $4 million investment fund seeded by the WGA.
Thrive is now an international community of more than 500 food and agtech entrepreneurs, professionals, and industry experts.
This year's Thrive program applicants come from 36 countries in the USA, Europe, Asia, and South America. They represent a range of agtech sectors, including cleantech, precision farming, farm management, food innovation, food packaging, food safety, biotech, alternative growing, production efficiency, and robotics.
"With Salinas as its base, Thrive is bringing together a global network of innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and technology and ag companies," said John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners. "They're drawn together by the huge opportunity that arises from a huge challenge: feeding the world, sustainably."
"We're delighted that so many entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders see the potential we see," said Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter. "Salinas has a history as a leader in ag. Our future is as a leader in agtech."
Photo and Graphics
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- High resolution photo of John Hartnett, Steve Forbes and Nora Khalid (as above)
- City of Salinas logo
- Thrive Accelerator logo
- SVG Partners logo
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