Because new technologies can lead the way to a safer, more secure and sustainable food supply, Cargill, Wichita, Kan., is partnering with Techstars, Boulder, Colo., and Ecolab, St. Paul, Minn., to create the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator.
"We are thrilled to welcome some of the brightest minds in food and ag tech into Cargill and Ecolab's backyards," says Justin Kershaw, chief innovation officer for Cargill. "This accelerator allows us to invest our time and resources in technology, shaping the future of agriculture and to address some of the greatest challenges facing the food system. At the same time, we see the partnership with Techstars as a way to inject startup energy inside Cargill, where we are committed to creating a culture that fosters technology innovation through internal expertise and external partnerships."
The first class, featuring 10 of the world's most promising startups, is set to arrive in Minneapolis in the summer of 2018 for a 13-week engagement, where they will build their business and receive input on developing technology to positively impact the food industry, securing capital and expanding their industry reach.
"Minnesota was literally built by food entrepreneurs more than 150 years ago, and entrepreneurs continue to thrive in the state's quickly expanding, yet supportive ecosystem," says Brett Brohl, managing director of Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator. "The Farm to Fork Accelerator will build on this rich history, leveraging Cargill's reach and leadership in food and agriculture as well as Ecolab's expertise in safe food, clean water and healthy environments. Combined with Techstars' proven accelerator model, we can truly help entrepreneurs take their companies to the next level while making a positive social impact."
The accelerator is scheduled to continue for three years, engaging both early stage entrepreneurs and late stage startups with a vision for affecting positive change across the food system. Applications for the first class open in January 2018, with a focus on startups that can advance key aspects of the food system, including food security and safety, ag tech, consumer goods and supply chain management.
Startups accepted into the program will receive mentor support from Cargill and Ecolab executives and access to the companies' market expertise, global connections and investment capital. Techstars' network of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and other partners also work hand-in-hand with the selected startups throughout the accelerator.