Hardware Teams Explore Regional AgTech Ecosystem
When startup teams join the Prototyping Hardware Accelerator at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, they’re unlocking countless opportunities and connections across the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. For members of the AgTech track, this network extends one step further – they’re plugged into New York State’s thriving food and ag innovation system, fueled by programs and initiatives like the Grow-NY Food & Ag Business Competition, Cornell AgriTech and the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture.
Funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, companies in the AgTech Prototyping Hardware Accelerator cohort are creating physical products addressing some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing farmers and food producers. They’re immersed in specialized training and connected to experts and potential partners within the agriculture industry.
On July 19, the cohort ventured outside of Rev’s prototyping shop and spent an agtech-filled day in Geneva, New York, beginning with a tour of the Cornell AgriTech facilities. Resources like the Cornell Food Venture Center Pilot Plant and High Pressure Processing Validation Center gave the founders insights into opportunities for product testing. Cathy Young, director of the Center of Excellence, also presented to the teams about business development opportunities and programming within COE.
In the afternoon, the bus traveled up the road to visit Professor Yu Jiang’s agricultural robotics lab. Located in the middle of a research farm, the cohort was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the innovative technology being developed.
“Talking with Prof. Jiang was most valuable in hearing someone for the first time say what I’d been trying to articulate around the state of robotics in agriculture,” said Dean Koyanagi, founder of Tree Gate Farm.
Back on the Cornell AgriTech campus in Barton Lab, Professor Chris Smart presented a session on Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) moonshots – ambitious and exploratory research projects.
The day closed out with a visit to Brewery Ardennes. Founded by Derek Edinger, co-founder of Rev alumni stardom member Ursa Space Systems, the cohort took a tour of the Belgian-style brewery and learned about the inner workings of the brewing industry.
The Geneva field trip built on programming throughout the summer, including an AgTech mini series led by Jenn Smith, director of food and ag programs at Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, and a field trip to the Emmy’s Organics processing plant in Ithaca.
At Demo Day on August 3, the EDA-funded AgTech teams presented their progress, prototypes, and business plans moving forward – a testament to the tangible benefits of collaboration within the regional ecosystem.