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Regional partners launch Agriculture Innovation Accelerator

Regional partners launch Agriculture Innovation Accelerator

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 8:00 pm

The Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center and Memphis Bioworks Foundation have formed a partnership to launch an agriculture innovation accelerator this summer to help start and grow new agricultural businesses.  
The development of the accelerator is in response to the challenge issued by Gov. Bill Haslam to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the southeast in the growth of the agricultural and forestry industries.
The program will be a cohort-based business accelerator that leverages the strength of the nine counties served by the Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center, which have significant assets related to agricultural crop production, livestock and logistics. Through a competitive application process, up to eight companies will be selected to participate in an intensive, six-month program of business instruction and mentorship to guide their development.
At the conclusion of the program, the participants will pitch their business plans to a group of investors in hopes of securing capital to grow those ideas into commercial reality.
The accelerator is open to individuals with an idea for a new business as well as existing companies that are working on developing a new technology or innovation in the agricultural sector. The program will support entrepreneurs commercializing a wide range of agriculture-related technologies, potentially including biobased products, precision agriculture and software, grain handling and storage, food processing, food safety, software, smart phone/tablet apps, livestock reproduction and nutrition, identity preservation of agricultural products and new crops.
“By 2050, there will be nine billion people around the world who need food, materials and energy, and new innovation will be key to developing sustainable sources for these products,” said Carol Reed, executive director of The Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center. “The agricultural innovation   accelerator will create new synergies and opportunities for our region to address these global issues, while working locally to create an entrepreneurial culture in our rural area.”
“The agricultural innovation accelerator is part of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s strategy to be engaged in the commercialization of agricultural technology, which is a vital part of the life sciences and biotechnology mission of the Foundation,” said Steve Bares, executive director of Memphis Bioworks Foundation. “Improving the efficiency and profitability of our region’s agricultural production base will increase the safety and availability of local food, connect rural production with Memphis’ urban industrial and logistics assets, and provide new investment opportunities in a new technology sector.”
An informational session will be held at the West Tennessee Ag Museum at the University of Tennessee Research and Education Center in Milan on June 25 at 6:30 p.m. to provide interested parties with additional program details.
Applications for the accelerator are available now and will be accepted now through July 17. To register for the information session or to receive an application, contact Ms. Reed at Carol.Reed@NWTDD.org.
This project is funded under an agreement with Launch Tennessee and/or the State of Tennessee.

Published in The Messenger 6.18.13

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