IRVINE, Calif., (January 18, 2017) — Today, the Western Growers’ Center for Innovation & Technology® (WGCIT) celebrates its one-year anniversary as a premier technology incubator aimed at bringing entrepreneurs together with farmers to develop innovative solutions to the biggest challenges facing agriculture.
The WGCIT first opened its doors on December 10, 2015, with six agricultural technology (agtech) start-up companies. In just one year, it has transformed into a hub of collaboration and innovation, now housing 27 startups. Western Growers officially honors the one-year anniversary today with an “open house” at the WGCIT in Salinas, Calif. The event features entrepreneurs collaborating with farmers on current and future technologies, as well as leaders from the agricultural industry and the City of Salinas speaking about the development of agtech and networking with agtech innovators.
“We are proud of the achievements we, and our startups, have accomplished thus far and have found our footing to create a solid foundation for the Center,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Science & Technology. In its first year, the WGCIT has quickly influenced the future of agtech development. The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology:
- Launched arguably the first scholarship program of its kind, providing scholarship winners with residence at one of the country’s premier agtech incubators designed to assist start-up companies who are developing agricultural technologies.
- Developed an initiative with Trace Genomics (one of WGCIT’s residents) to launch a Soil Microbial Health Initiative, assisting farmers in understanding how soil biology is a key factor in crop productivity, disease susceptibility and crop quality.
- Created a partnership with SWIIM (one of WGCIT’s residents) to help farmers conserve more water and simultaneously earn money for the water they do not use.
- Crafted a program of regular classes and workshops to help startups bring their technology from development to production.
- Assisted and provided resources to help the agtech start-up companies housed in the WGCIT develop new technologies, including HeavyConnect’s Pesticide Use Reporting tool, iFood Decision Sciences’ data management app called “The Toolbox,” and more.
With the first year under its belt, the WGCIT plans to further agtech excellence throughout the local community, state, nation and industry.
“During this first year, the Center has grown organically and going forward we are going to take a more solutions-orientated role,” said Giclas. “We have engaged Dennis Donohue, former Mayor of the City of Salinas, and under his leadership we plan to zero in and seek out agtech startups who are developing technologies that solve the industry’s most immediate needs.”
This new solutions-oriented approach includes hosting short sessions that highlight specific technologies that solve targeted industry needs; connecting with other incubators and accelerators; solidifying ties with academia; and more formalized trials and beta testing with the Western Growers community. Key targets include solutions to issues surrounding water quantity and quality, technologies that focus on mechanization to provide relief to labor challenges and food safety innovations.
For local media, the one-year celebration begins at 4:00 p.m. PST at the Center for Innovation & Technology: 150 Main Street, Suite 130, Salinas, CA 93901.
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 nearly 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.