Four start-ups selected for 2020 Iowa AgriTech Accelerator

Since 2017, the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has been bringing four to six start-ups to Des Moines, Iowa, every year. During the 100-day program, the start-up founders are given the opportunity to connect with mentors and potential customers as well as develop their business ideas.

“More importantly, they explore strategic partnerships with ag tech industry leaders,” says Nadilia Gomez, executive director of Iowa AgriTech Accelerator.

Despite the myriad challenges 2020 has posed, the organization and the start-up founders were still eager to see the program continue. 

“This year has been exceptionally difficult in many different forms for everyone,” Gomez says. “Entrepreneurs have seen some slowing down of the connections that open up possibilities for them. We also noticed that whether on the food production side or on the consumer side, we all have experienced the impact this year has had on the production and distribution of food. Nevertheless, the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator community has been resilient, and it has been inspiring.”

It has also reignited commitment to solving big ag problems that were exacerbated by the pandemic. As they forge ahead, the cohort’s mentors and investors are embracing new technologies, new tools, and new formats to deliver an even better experience for the four start-ups selected to be a part of this year’s program. The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator runs from July 8 through October 16, 2020. Investor companies include Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance, Grinnell Mutual, John Deere, Kent Corporation, Corteva Agriscience, Sukup Manufacturing, and Onset.

The 2020 Start-ups

Below are the four start-ups selected.

N-Sense
Headquarters: Ames, Iowa
Founders: Natalia Rogovska, Stephen Ringlee, David Laird

N-Sense is developing a soil nitrate sensor that can be attached to farm implements and used to determine real-time, on-the-go soil nitrate concentrations. Its sensing technology has sufficient accuracy to facilitate precision application of nitrogen fertilizers enabling sustainable, cost-effective, and environmentally-sound fertilizer management.

Digital Spring
Headquarters: Ames, Iowa
Founder: Jim Canyon

Digital Spring delivers cloud-based agronomic analytic solutions tailored to individual farmers. From a web app designed to keep farmers on track with year-end costs, to a three-dimensional detailed map of soil moisture changes over time, and simulations of next year profits, Digital Spring aims to increase crop yields and reduce input costs in farming operations.

“Let’s face it – farm production demands aren’t going away. I believe the solution to significant production improvements will come from big data and ag tech,” says Jim Canyon, founder of Digital Spring. “Today’s farmers don’t have the benefit of inexpensive, accurate simulation tools. We are going to change that with our whole farm profit and loss simulation tool, which is designed to increase profits 10% to 40%.”

SenseGrass
Headquarters: Indirapuram, India
Founders: Lalit Gautam, Rahul Gundala, Abhishek Khandal, Varun Pandit

SenseGrass focuses on patented first-of-its-kind IoT sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to detect nutrient deficiencies and crop diseases to improve soil efficiency and crop yield. Combining cutting-edge technology like Nano-Satellite Mapping, Rover Bots, and AI-based mobile and web applications, SenseGrass aims to make farming super-efficient and easy.

Curiosity Labs
Headquarters: Ames, Iowa
Founder: Denis Tamiev

Curiosity Labs develops microscope devices that use computer vision to examine soil samples and detect the presence of nematodes. In addition, these microscopes can collect visual data typically missed by human inspection, which enhances the ability of ag biotech professionals to improve yield and sustainability.

“Our main objective is to connect with large ag biotech companies and learn how our data and our technology can help them create better products to increase yields and sustainability,” says Denis Tamiev, founder of Curiosity Labs.

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