destination for innovation on a global level,” said Donohue. He notes that when international consulates and organizations visit Salinas they request to see the WGCIT to learn what technologies are coming out of the Center and what initiatives are being developed. “We’ve already formed strategic partnerships with New Zealand, the Netherlands and most recently Canada,” said Donohue. “As we continue to advance the development of solutions and adaptations for our members, we’re evolving into a tech center that is a key player in the global agtech ecosystem.” On a more local level, the Center will continue to act as a “concierge” service, connecting WG members with WGCIT startups who are developing technologies that directly meet their specific farm and commodity needs. “We know who all the players are, so we are able to fill the gaps and be the direct line between innovators and growers—all with the hopes of rapid commercialization,” said Donohue. Numerous startups have grown and flourished through their involvement with the Center, including Concentric Power, which built a cogeneration system for Taylor Farms and True Leaf Farms; Concept Clean Energy, which recently completed a solar trial at Huntington Farms; and FarmWise, which just raised $14.5 million to continue development of its autonomous weeding vehicle. Additionally, many of the startups that more recently joined the Center are moving and shaking, building both their technologies and teams. Among them are AgTools, which will use its recently awarded $200,000 from the San Diego Angel Conference 2020 to further enhance their tool that aggregates

immense amounts of data and simplifies it down to key factors to improve decision-making for farmers, suppliers and buyers; Naio Technologies and Tensorfield Agricluture, two companies now working with WG growers to perfect their autonomous weeders; and Germany-based Novihum, which is successfully growing its team in Salinas and breaching the California market with its revolutionary soil enhancers. To assist startups, as well as WG members, in building their workforce, the WGCIT also plans to invest in becoming a career- advancement learning center. The Center has plans to serve as an “agtech academy” where students and ag industry employees will learn how to use emerging technologies to advance agriculture through hands-on learning modules, real-world demonstrations and educational programs. “The future of agriculture is becoming increasingly technical and the agriculture workforce is not keeping pace with the technological developments of the industrial world,” said Donohue. “The key to rapid adoption is upgrading the skills of the current and future workforce on the farm. We, as a tech center, will make that education a necessity.” The original vision of the WGCIT serving as a hub for the accelerated development and rapid deployment of innovative solutions to help farmers feed more people with fewer inputs still hold true today. Over these past five years, the Center has incrementally evolved and will continue to expand its offerings to further transform the agtech space in both the United States and around the world.

TheWGCIT hosts networking events throughout the year where innovators can collaborate with growers.


MAY | JUNE 2020

Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

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