ACRE AgTech Accelerator is On Track to Meet Michigan’s Innovation NeedsAt the 2019 Pure Michigan Agriculture Summit, Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), said it best: “. . . agriculture is in our DNA. Through new processes, tech, and products, Michigan farmers are transforming the industry.” At ACRE AgTech, Michigan’s only entrepreneurial support organization for ag, that is their focus: new processes and technologies that can transform the ag industry. The transformational science and founders are out there, but sometimes they need an infusion of capital and business assistance to get their technologies to the commercial market. To answer that need, in mid-2019 ACRE AgTech will issue a call for applications for its first cohort of accelerator program participants. In order to be selected for Michigan’s first ever accelerator program dedicated to agriculture, the applicants must demonstrate that their concept has high potential to address the specific challenge areas identified by ACRE AgTech. Challenge areas are identified through interactions that ACRE staff have had with agricultural leaders statewide, including farmers, trade associations, and agribusinesses.
Innovation is front and center in most industry sectors right now, especially in agriculture. Each year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development publishes a magazine called Michigan Agriculture which showcases the many aspects of Michigan’s vibrant agriculture industry. This year, the magazine’s focus is on innovation, and ACRE AgTech was featured in an article alongside Michigan agtech innovators Digested Organics and FarmLogs. ACRE AgTech is a public private partnership designed to help drive the development much needed agricultural technology companies like these forward faster. According to MEDC’s Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fred Molnar, “We need accelerators and early-stage investors to ensure they have opportunities to attain the backing they need to bring their companies from ideation to commercialization.”
Early stage investors can see the opportunities in the agtech field, and they have the desire to invest. Yet venture and angel groups in Michigan do not do many agtech deals. This is often due to a lack of the knowledge about the agriculture industry that is needed to evaluate the deals, according to Grand Angels President Tim Parker. That is why he is now Chair of the ACRE AgTech Board of Directors. He wants to see venture and angel groups from across the state increase the number of agtech deals they have in their portfolios, and ACRE AgTech’s accelerator program can help bring deals to the table that are more investable. ACRE AgTech’s new partnership with GAN (a group of independent accelerators, partners and investors) will provide numerous benefits for the accelerator and its cohort participants as well, as they develop their concept and prepare to pitch to investors.
ACRE AgTech has been providing connections and resources to agtech entrepreneurs across Michigan since December 2014. ACRE, a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization, is supported from GreenStone Farm Credit, Watson IP, BizStream, Rehmann, Next Creative, Ottawa County, and the State of Michigan. For more information about ACRE AgTech and the launch of the ACRE AgTech Accelerator, please visit - www.acreagtech.com; follow - @ACREAgTech; or contact - firstname.lastname@example.org or 616.994.4745.