Strategic Economic Development Corporation

Northwest Ag Innovation Hub Cluster Development Project

Salem, OR

Venture Challenge

Federal Share: $469,150
Local Match: $512,250

The Strategic Economic Development Corporation of the Mid-Willamette Valley (SEDCOR) is proposing a grower-centric innovation initiative to the Economic Development Administration’s Build to Scale Venture Challenge program. Built upon SEDCOR’s industry-driven approach to economic development and robust relationships and partnerships within the agricultural industry and partner organizations, the Northwest Ag Innovation Hub will accelerate its innovation cluster targeting agriculture and its supply chains and designed to foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley. By flipping the script on traditional startup and entrepreneurship activities – turning the farm into the incubator and the grower into the lead consultant and guide – the Hub will accomplish two main goals: increase the economic competitiveness of the farm and foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem. The benefits will be realized in multiple ways: diversified revenue streams due to the incubation-for-equity model and subsequent adoption of technology, and through approaches including value-added processing, branded food products, and ways to monetize ecosystem benefits and data. Simultaneously the NW Ag Innovation Hub will grow and attract startups that support agricultural businesses and technology. The project will leverage existing regional partnerships and utilize a successful public/private model developed by AgLaunch Initiative of Tennessee and Ag Ventures Alliance of Iowa. Specifically, this project will connect Mid-Willamette Valley farmers and agricultural businesses and startups to counterparts working on similar initiatives in Iowa, Tennessee and the regions surrounding those states. Collectively the three regional approaches offer the ability to incubate and accelerate technology creation and adoption, while broadly creating new market opportunities.