The Salinas Valley agtech community boasts ample resources to help young entrepreneurs and aspiring industry leaders successfully turn a business idea into a reality.
Salinas is among the agtech ecosystems nationwide that has experienced remarkable growth over the past decade. What’s more, a report by capital venture firm Finistere Ventures shows that $6.7 billion was invested into agtech in the past five years alone. In light of an ever-growing global population and increasing demand for food resources, there’s huge potential for continued investment and new ideas that aim to transform the agriculture industry.
Here are just some of the Salinas Valley-based entrepreneurship programs are dedicated to helping the next generation of agriculture leaders thrive:
Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology
Not only does Salinas-based Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) provide startups with workspace, networking opportunities, seminars, training and mentorship needed to grow, but it also helps bridge the gap between agtech startups and local growers.
Currently, more than 50 startups call WGCIT home from the Salinas Valley, the country and the world, including PowerGrow, ApisProtect and BioLumic. What’s more, this year WGCIT celebrated its three-year anniversary and announced their Crop-Collaborative Initiative, which will include the AgTechx Plus Road Show, a traveling road show to discuss automation needs and new labor-saving technologies in key production areas.
Launched in 2014, THRIVE Accelerator fosters an ecosystem that allows tech and agriculture companies large and small, as well as entrepreneurs, investors and universities to work directly together on food challenges and test technologies in the field. Over the last four years, THRIVE has helped accelerate more than 40 companies. Combined, those companies have brought more than half a billion dollars in value to the agtech industry in the Salinas Valley.
THRIVE Accelerator boasts a highly competitive, eight-week program that provides agtech startups with virtual and in-person mentorship from top leaders in the agriculture industry, as well as investment and direct access to farmers located in the Salinas Valley and throughout Central California. A new group of startups complete the program each year, beginning in January and culminating in June with the Forbes AgTech Summit Demo Day.
Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (ALBA) develops the organic farming and management skills of immigrant farmworkers to help them pursue the dream of farm ownership or advance their careers. The five-year Farmer Education and Enterprise Development (FEED) program provides intensive, land-based education and farm incubation to 50 pre-launch and startup organic farmers each year.
Operating on a 100-acre farm in the Salinas Valley, farmer-entrepreneurs gain affordable access to land and equipment, and the technical assistance needed for their ventures to take root and grow. An additional 50 students and ag professionals are trained at ALBA to advance their careers in Monterey County’s agriculture sector. Check out ALBA’s newest video, “Acres of Ambition,” about training farmworkers to become independent farmers here.