Invest Nebraska Corporation
The Combine is a statewide initiative led by Invest Nebraska Corporation (INC) focused on precision agricultural innovations moving from Proof-of-Concept (TRL 3) to initial commercialization (TRL 8). It provides commercialization curriculum aimed at building high-growth, precision ag businesses in combination with mentorship from private sector industry professionals.
Precision agriculture, a component of AgTech, is an application of breakthrough digital farming technologies including robots, drones and satellite imagery, Internet of Things (IoT) smart devices and connectivity, machine learning, sensors, diagnostics, and analytics. Although agriculture is the largest industry in the state and the main intellectual property focus of the University of Nebraska, the state has not historically had the entrepreneurial infrastructure, resources, and industry collaboration devoted to AgTech. While INC currently devotes one full-time person and raised some initial donations to pilot the Combine, the challenge remains to identify additional funds to expand the technical assistance program and hire additional personnel to build on INC’s track record of successes in growing Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem1.
INC launched the Combine Incubator Program in 2019. The purpose of the project is to cultivate technology advancement by assisting entrepreneurs in business and tech development, increasing investment capital attraction, and creating high-wage jobs through precision ag innovation. Through the ‘Build’ level of the EDA’s Venture Challenge, INC seeks to bolster this pilot program by supporting additional resources specifically for precision ag technology companies.