May has been a fruitful month for SolGro, an Arlington-based agtech startup that has been chosen for cohorts in two prominent programs.
SolGro has been selected as one of five early-stage companies for the first-ever agtech cohort by The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, and is also one of 74 startups in the 2019 MassChallenge Texas cohort.
SolGro boosts crop productivity with nanoparticle film
SolGro—short for Growing Solutions—has developed a nanoparticle film designed to increase crop productivity via light conversion on greenhouses.
Last year, we told you about how SolGro’s product has increased crop yields by as much as 20 percent, and in some cases, as high as 300 percent.
“What we’re able to do is convert those unused color bands into red and blue,” Tyler Sickels, founder and CEO of SolGro, told Dallas Innovates last year. “It’s shifting the colors and increasing the amount of red and blue getting to the plants.”
Sickels told Dallas Innovates that IN2 is great “because IN2 will validate our product to the open market.” He said that the accelerator will handle testing and validation of the of the nanoparticle film.
“They’ll do the heavy lifting,” he said.
MassChallenge, Sickels said, will help SolGro that the business side of the operation is moving forward correctly, and said being in two cohorts at once will be a “one-two punch” for the startup.
Wells Fargo’s technology incubator and platform is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The Wells Fargo incubator was launched in 2014 with a focus on supporting scaleable solutions that improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings, but it expanded its charter last year to advance the agriculture industry. Each company in the invitation-only program will receive up to $250,000 in non-dilute funding and hands-on technical assistance to further develop and validate their technologies.
Other companies participating in the Wells Fargo cohort are:
- Chicago’s Aker Technologies, which developed an automated crop-scouting process that captures and analyzes the presence and intensity of pests and pathogens below the crop canopy.
- CoverCress of St. Louis, which has a winter crop that covers soil during winter, protecting it from harsh conditions while producing a low-carbon intensity crop for renewable fuel and food.
- Intrinsyx Bio, Los Altos, Calif., has plant probiotics that increase crop yield, reduce excess fertilizer, and improve soil and water conditions.
- St. Louis-based RNAIssance Ag, which created safe, effective, and environmentally sustainable insecticide for precision pest management.
The companies in the MassChallenge cohort are part of a four-month accelerator program, which provides high-level mentoring, a six-month WeWork community membership, and more than $250,000 in deals and discounts.
MassChallenge’s program starts June 10 and ends in October at the MassChallenge Texas awards ceremony. There, winners get a piece of $500,000 in equity-free funding.
Other North Texas startups will join SolGro in the Austin-based MassChallenge cohort, including:
- AdaptaFit, a Dallas startup whose magnets help people with disabilities get dressed independently via the use of magnets in the clothes.
- Hangio, a Dallas hanger company that’s focused on optimizing the everyday closet experience through innovative hanger technology.
- MµZ Motion, based in Fort Worth, which is driving the future of robotics with its custom, high-performance motion systems.
- Richardson-based NOVAM, a patent-pending distributed security company providing IoT device and data integrity using a blockchain security fabric and cloud.
- Dallas’ TeleCalm, a phone service that helps keep seniors living at home or in senior living connected and protected.
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