Agriculture is one of the most essential industries as it helps provide food for millions of families in the United States. It is vital to improve different aspects of this industry through various means. The good news is different startup companies are leaning toward this direction.
The main challenge about launching a new organization aimed at aiding the agriculture sector is finding the capital to pursue specific goals. Securing funding is one of the best ways for these companies to push through.
Numerous organizations offer grants and funding for agriculture, agronomy, and agtech startups. This article tackles some of these agencies and examples of startups that benefited from them.
Organizations that Offer Funding for Agriculture Startups
Funding organizations for agriculture, agronomy, and agtech startups vary in type. Many of these funders are private companies that specialize in investing in viable businesses, while others are charity foundations and government agencies.
AgFunder is a venture capital firm that specializes in investing in agtech and foodtech companies. It chooses innovative and impactful candidates. It is known in the industry as a major investor that helped transform food and agriculture.
It has launched various funding initiatives from 2017 to 2020, with a fund still upcoming (AgTech, n.d.). It also has the GROW Impact Fund, which seeks to address food production difficulties. It seeks to leverage technology in aiding production, distribution, and consumption.
Just in 2020, AgFunder invested $26.1 billion. This figure is expected to rise to $30 after new deals are finalized (AgFunder, 2021).
2 – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) offers a wide variety of grants and cooperative agreements for those in the agriculture sector.
There are various grant options for interested parties including the NST-NIFA Plant Biotic Interactions Program, Agriculture Business Innovation Center at an HBCU Institution, and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative m- Foundational and Applied Science Program (NIFA, n.d.).
The grants process is composed of the pre-award, award, post-award, and closeout. Interested applicants can seek help from the Office of Grants and Financial Management.
3 – The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative
The Rockefeller Foundation is dedicated to aiding various initiatives all over the world to help people and the planet. Its focus is the improvement of lives by promoting equity and fairness.
This foundation granted funds to some of the most innovative applicants dealing with all kinds of technological and financial support for small and medium enterprises worldwide.
Aside from agriculture, it also awarded grants to organizations focused on helping minority communities, support for distraught countries, pandemic response initiatives, healthcare, philanthropy for the public good (Rockefeller Foundation, n.d.).
4 – Agricultural Technology Adoption Institute (ATAI)
Agricultural Technology Adoption Institute (ATAI) seeks to assist producers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (ATAI, n.d.). Its main goal is to conduct meticulous tests on programs that can improve the lives and livelihood of farmers in the aforementioned regions.
It places value on evidence, which can be used to develop innovative approaches to improve productivity, distribution, and commercialization.
To further help players in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the organization launches competitions to determine who receives grants. It focuses on research proposals for applying technology in agriculture.
5 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Agricultural Development Program
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) seeks to address various issues such as poverty, health, and education across the globe. It has activities in Africa, China, East China, Europe, India, the Middle East, and North America.
One of its focus areas is agriculture as a way to provide food. It aims to provide support to farmers and governments, especially in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
This is achieved through grants. In 2020, the foundation gave a total of $5.822 billion to grantees, $620,000,000 went to the category that tackles agriculture (BMGF, 2020).
Examples for Agriculture Startups which received Funding
These organizations have helped a wide range of companies reach their potentials. Some of the startups that benefitted from these agencies are the following.
1 – Nobell
Nobell is a company dedicated to finding ways to make cheese using plants (AgFunder, n.d.). It seeks to use real casein derived from plants to recreate the stretchiness, texture, and mouthfeel offered by dairy-made cheese.
It received funding because of its talented team, its potential to transform the vegan sector, the demand for such products, and the potential to make cheese cheaper compared to dairy cheese. The startup received $75 million during the Series B round.
2 – Hwy Haul
Receiving $10 million during the Series A funding round is Hwy Haul, which is a digital platform designed to help farmers transport their fresh produce with the help of freights (AgFunder, n.d.). It is essentially a shipping marketplace that makes this process more streamlined and convenient.
With the help of Hwy Haul, farmers can simply book a transport service for their products. It also offers real-time pricing, temperature tracking, re-routing, and delay predictions, just to name a few.
It was built and managed by the team that brought the industry WalmartLabs. It is seen as the first to provide such a service.
3 – Fyto
Fyto received an undisclosed amount of money from funders (AgFunder, n.d.). This startup seeks to transform the agriculture sector by innovating the use of aquatic plants. It is an automated platform that helps produce sustainable crops.
It received funding because of its various potentials such as the enormous market for soy, prospective low prices for products, good valuation, and great sustainability.
Its team is also composed of MIT. It is headed by a CEO that is known to have experience in mechanical engineering and growing aquatic plants.
4 – Seed Systems Group, Inc.
Seed Systems Group, Inc. received $100,000 for its five-year proposal that seeks to expand the provision of improved seeds and other similar innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa (Rockefeller Foundation, 2020). Its main goal is to create small-holder agriculture in the region that can survive various situations like a pandemic.
Startups that focus on agriculture can get funding from various foundations and agencies as long as they know where to look. These organizations can help them get the capital for their ventures, as seen in the examples of successful startups that received such grants.
- AgFunder. (n.d.). Our general foodtech and agtech funds. Retrieved from https://agfunder.com/funds/
- AgFunder. (2021). 2021 AgFunder AgriFoodTech investment report. Retrieved from https://agfunder.com/research/2021-AgFunder-agrifoodtech-investment-report/
- AgFunder. (n.d.). Nobell. Retrieved from https://agfunder.com/portfolio/Nobell/
- AgFunder. (n.d.). Fyto. Retrieved from https://agfunder.com/portfolio/fyto/
- AgFunder. (n.d.). Hwy Haul. Retrieved from https://agfunder.com/portfolio/hwy-haul/
- Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.atai-research.org/
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2020). Annual report 2020. Retrieved from https://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/financials/annual-reports/annual-report-2020
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (n.d.). Search for a Funding Opportunity. Retrieved from https://nifa.usda.gov/page/search-grant
- Rockefeller Foundation. (n.d.). Our grants. Retrieved from https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/grants/
- Rockefeller Foundation. (2020). Seed systems group, inc. Retrieved from https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/grant/grant-seed-systems-group-inc-2020/