July 12, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Western Growers Awarded $30K from Wells Fargo to Accelerate AgTech Innovation

IRVINE, Calif. (July 14, 2016) – Western Growers has received a $30,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to support start-up companies that are developing technologies to solve agriculture’s most critical challenges. The grant was awarded during the opening reception of the 2016 Forbes AgTech Summit on July 13.

The funds will be used to create scholarships for entrepreneurs who are looking to advance their innovations by joining the newly launched Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology—an agriculture technology incubator in Salinas, Calif. Wells Fargo, the largest banking and lending organization in the U.S. commercial agriculture sector and a leader in environmental sustainability, will be able to lend critical sector expertise as well as leverage its Foundation to help speed up commercialization for ag tech startups.

“Investment in technological solutions has never been more critical to agriculture, as we’ll need to dramatically increase food production to feed a rapidly growing population,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology. “Wells Fargo’s generous contribution will be a key factor in helping Western Growers bring entrepreneurs together with farmers to develop these creative innovations.”

Start-up companies that are awarded a scholarship will have access to a hot desk or workstation at the Center for Innovation & Technology for one year, and will receive all the benefits of being a Western Growers’ member and resident of the Center. They will have access to routine classes, workshops and networking opportunities—all designed to provide them with the business and legal knowledge and customer connections they need to bring their technology from development to production. They will also be offered the amenities of a traditional office, including internet and phones, printers and copiers, meeting and conference rooms, and cutting-edge technology to live stream events and presentations.

Scholarships, which will be funded through the Western Growers Foundation, will be awarded based on financial need, utility to industry, business model and market potential, among other criteria. The 2,800 square-foot Center for Innovation & Technology currently houses 20 startups and the scholarship would support 10 additional technology companies to receive a coveted spot in the incubator. The Center would not be possible without sponsors and partners such as Wells Fargo.

”Working together with Western Growers to create a scholarship program for agriculture technology entrepreneurs will promote commercialization of technical solutions for agriculture,” said Matt Servatius, Head of Wells Fargo CleanTech Banking. “The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology engages our customers and other stakeholders that are developing technologies to promote sustainability and resource efficiency.”

To apply for the scholarship or to learn more about the Center for Innovation & Technology, contact Hank Giclas at [email protected]. For a hi-res image of the award being received, click here.

About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California and Colorado. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce. For generations we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook

About Wells Fargo CleanTech Group:
A leader in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and operating sustainably, Wells Fargo has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the U.S. Green Building Council. Since 2005, Wells Fargo has provided more than $52 billion in environmental finance, supporting sustainable buildings and renewable energy projects nationwide. This includes investments in more than 300 solar projects and 47 wind projects that generate enough clean renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of American homes each year. For more information, please visit: www.wellsfargo.com/about/csr and the Wells Fargo Environmental Forum.

Wells Fargo is committed to supporting innovation and entrepreneurs to help small businesses grow. In May 2014, the company introduced Wells Fargo Works for Small Business SM, a broad initiative to deliver resources, guidance and services to help more small businesses achieve financial success. In August 2014, Wells Fargo launched The Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, a semiannual boot camp for young companies to help commercialize ideas and begin selling effectively into the enterprise marketplace and/or the financial services vertical.