Within the Mid-South Delta Agricultural Innovation Cluster (“Delta Ag Cluster”), AgLaunch will create AgLaunch i6, a farm-centric commercial validation program for agricultural-technology startups, as well as expand current AgLaunch365 programming and additional capacity within the AgLaunch Farmer Network. The Delta Ag Cluster is a Tennessee-based multi-state, multi-institution initiative that focuses on creating a platform to commercialize technologies in agriculture and facilitate farmers’ transitions into next generation agricultural opportunities, stimulate job creation in at-risk rural and urban communities, and create a more profitable system to support AgTech investors and startups. The Delta Ag Cluster is an informal regional consortium managed by AgLaunch Initiative, a nonprofit organization operating in partnership with Tennessee Department of Agriculture. AgLaunch and partners collectively form a network of leading, early-adopter farmers incentivized to provide proof-of-concept and commercial validation support to AgTech startups.
The i6 Challenge project will add programming capacity to the AgLaunch365 accelerator and expand capabilities of the existing farmer-led incubator model in two key ways: (1) expand proof of concept capabilities at the “Digital Acre” project in partnership with Agricenter International and (2) build a “Data Commons” across many acres, soil types, and production practices to improve cost and efficiency of commercial validation for AgTech startups. Implementation of this project will lead to increased support for AgTech startups, higher success rates for those companies, and greater farm adoption of new technologies. In the long term, this increased capacity will be monetized for the benefit of the farmer network as part of AgLaunch’s sustainability strategy.