other companies and potential customers,” said Bryan Banks, founder and chief operating officer at KipTraq. “While we have not yet closed any deals with companies we have been introduced to through GTN, we're close to closing a few.” KipTraq, which creates a flexible mobile data collection tool that streamlines any data collection process in minutes, is also delving into collaborations with other members of the GTN. The agtech company has been part of the WGCIT since May 2019, and since its involvement, has made significant connections by engaging in WG-related events such as the Forbes AgTech Summit and now the online GTN meetings. Moving forward, the WGCIT will make the program more customized to better meet the needs of both the grower and the startup. GTN meetings will now target specific companies to be paired with specific growers. For example, WGCIT startups working on technology to help mitigate bee colony losses will be paired with almond growers and water technology startups. The new tailored model will be implemented in future sessions with the help of Netafim, a GTN and WGCIT sponsor. Israel- based Netafim, a global leader in precision irrigation solutions for sustainable agriculture, has played an integral role in identifying participants for the program—in both the previous in-person forum and new virtual format. “Netafim is on a vital mission to help our hungry world grow more food, using less of our precious resources,” said Roy Levinson, Netafim's digital farming commercial lead. “The
Grower Trial Network provides us with the unique opportunity of connecting our most forward-thinking growers with the latest innovation in agtech. This allows us to help growers vet new product offerings and we can contribute to the refinement of the startups offering to ensure efficacy in the field.” Netafim joins a whole host of WGCIT sponsors from around the globe who have generously funded and supported the WGCIT. These include philanthropic-minded WG members across California, Arizona and Colorado as well as new supporters from Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Though an unexpected shift, the quick adaptation to virtual meetings due to COVID-19 has introduced a global connectivity element for WGCIT resident start-up companies. Startups housed in the Center can now have access to an unrivaled number of companies worldwide and can pitch to growers across the nation and in other parts of the world. GTN strives to provide widespread access similar to that of the world’s largest global airline alliance, Star Alliance, which offers its members a network that is constantly expanding and presenting new global business opportunities in emergent economies. “Because the world is so virtual, thanks to COVID, it is also now smaller. You can talk to anyone, anywhere,” said Donohue. “The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology has strengthened our global ties, and we are well on our way to providing ‘Star Alliance’ access through our Grower Trial Network.”
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