The future of agriculture is center stage at Ag Innovation Showcase

Bees, new food sources and machine learning are leading trends

The Ag Innovation Showcase will be held Sept. 11-13 in St. Louis.
The Ag Innovation Showcase will be held Sept. 11-13 in St. Louis.

LOS ANGELES and ST. LOUIS (Aug. 30, 2017) — Trained bees that pollinate specific target crops, snacks that make eating bugs less of a novelty than a viable food source, 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 the ninth annual 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. Innovators will present their products to one of ag’s most elite groups of industry insiders to land their company’s next big deal.

Sept. 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.

“We’re glad we can bring the ag community together to create synergy between the multitude of products and projects,” 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, Beeflow has developed technologies that enhance bees’ 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 Ag Innovation Showcase organizer.

New food sources showcased
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 delicious flavors, including Sour Cream & Onion and Texas BBQ. Crickets are a high protein food source that leaves a minimal environmental footprint to farm.

Bonomuse Biochem is 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 waves. 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. These new developments will allow farmers to monitor the reproductive status and health of their herd, and manage illness 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 display innovations based in machine learning. Similarly, five out of six 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.

Over 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.

For tickets and additional information, visit http://www.agshowcase.com/home

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