The second class in Techstars' Farm to Fork Accelerator Program starts this week in St. Paul, Cargill and Ecolab announced Monday.
Eleven startups from across the U.S. and as far away as India and Israel, were selected to participate in the second annual business accelerator designed specifically for food and agriculture entrepreneurs, with a strong bent toward those that are "tech-enabled."
Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based business development organization, has more than 40 different accelerators around the globe all aimed at kickstarting good ideas through mentorship, while the sponsoring companies are hoping to learn from the younger, nimbler startups.
"Solving the greatest food and sustainability challenges the world faces today requires partnership and fresh, innovative ideas," Justin Kershaw, Cargill's chief information officer, said in a prepared statement. "Having the brightest minds in food and ag tech in Cargill and Ecolab's backyards provides an amazing opportunity to infuse startup energy into our company, while also helping bring critical solutions to scale. It's truly a win-win."
St. Paul-based Ecolab and Minnetonka-based Cargill are the primary backers of the Farm to Fork Accelerator Program. This is the second of a planned three classes that run during the summer months, culminating in a demo day in October where the partipating companies pitch their concepts during Twin Cities Startup Week.
"While we're here to mentor these startups, we're also learning from their approach to problem-solving and are excited to help bring their energy to the Twin Cities startup community," Katie Peterson, Ecolab marketing vice president and Techstars program lead, said in a prepared statement. "Their passion and innovation, combined with the global scale and reach of Ecolab and Cargill, can help solve the challenges of safely feeding the world's population."
This year's class includes Contain, Conversight, EcoPlant, Food for All, Imago AI, Magic AI, Otrafy, Phood, PurPics, Trackter and Transparent Kitchen.
More details about each company can be found on the Techstars blog.
Whether it's called agri-food, food tech or farm to fork, said Brett Brohl, Techstars managing director of the program, people are increasingly paying attention to this space.
"Our focus for the program continues to be tech-enabled startups, software, hardware & IoT, that want to solve big problems in the food world," Brohl wrote in a blog Monday. "This year’s class truly represents technology that will impact the industry from farms all the way to the fork."
Last year's program included nine startups that had access to hundreds of leaders in food, ag and tech. One company, Traive, announced at the end of the program it was moving its headquarters from Boston to the Twin Cities.