HeavyConnect, TracMap, and Tailwater Systems who “exited” the WGCIT in 2019. Though all four startups grew large enough to expand their operations out of the Center, they are still involved in many WG and WGCIT happenings. AgSharks: WG partnered with S2G Ventures (Seed 2 Growth) to launch a groundbreaking initiative to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry, called the AgSharks® Competition. AgSharks is a live event, hosted at the WG Annual Meeting, where start-up companies compete for equity investments totaling up to $250,000 to support the development and growth of their businesses, as well as for farm acreage to pilot their technologies. To date, a total of $3 million has been awarded to four startups (Hazel Technologies, AgVoice, Augean Robotics and mobius pbc). 2018 AgTechx: As part of the WG’s key focus to bringing agricultural technologies to farmers, the Center created AgTechx—signature events where growers, researchers, technologists and entrepreneurs gather in key agricultural production areas for riveting discussions about future farming technology. The first AgTechx event launched in Brawley on February 8, 2018, and has since been held in Reedley, Coalinga, Delano, Sacramento and King City. In total, more than 1,000 people have attended the AgTechx events. 2019 Automation Initiative: WG officially launched its Automation Initiative— an industry-led initiative designed to accelerate field automation progress with a primary focus on field harvesting. WG/WGCIT gathers growers, agtech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and leaders from technology companies to collaborate on strategies and tactics, as well as create a roadmap, to make the integration of automation more accessible to farms of all sizes and crops. Grower Trial Network: WGCIT kicked off the first meeting for its Grower Trial Network—an organized group of WG members who trial and evaluate technology coming out of the WGCIT. The group, which is led by Future Volunteer Leaders and supported by WG board members and the Center’s sponsors, holds its annual strategic planning session at Harris Ranch, where they discuss how to

Concentric Power's cogeneration plant will help Taylor Farms generate onsite electric power for low temperature refrigeration, producing an annual energy offset of 64 percent.

further accelerate the development and availability of technology that will enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the specialty crop sector. Voices of the Valley Podcast: WG created its first podcast: ‘Voices of the Valley.’ The podcast features WGCIT Director Dennis Donohue, as he interviews leaders in agricultural technology and innovation on new solutions for today and tomorrow’s

challenges. The podcast currently has 60 episodes and has been downloaded more

than 6,500 times. 2020 and Beyond

In addition to developing and enhancing ongoing agtech initiatives, the WGCIT looks to further establish itself as a global stop in the agtech world. “We have succeeded in becoming a


MAY | JUNE 2020

Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

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