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June 30, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Eight companies coming to Knoxville week after next for inaugural “Cultivate Appalachia Bootcamp”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Eight companies have been announced as the inaugural participants in the new “Cultivate Appalachia Bootcamp,” the first official program of the Appalachian AgriFood Innovation Cluster.

The new initiative is being coordinated by Memphis-headquartered AgLaunch for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition to AgLaunch, other co-sponsors include the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Sync.Space, The Biz Foundry, InvestSWVA, South Carolina Research Authority, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Tennessee Tech University, National Black Growers Council, and North Carolina Biotech Center along with support from Launch Tennessee.

Over a four-day period starting July 11, the leaders of the eight companies will participate in an intensive bootcamp where they will: (1) gain a deeper understanding of the agriculture industry; (2) receive guidance on financing and intellectual property options for agricultural start-ups; (3) receive coaching on refining their business model and pitch; and (4) make connections to mentors and resources to take their business to the next step.

Then, from 5 to 7 p.m. July 14, the eight will be showcased at a” Cultivate Appalachia Reception  and pitch event to be held at 445 South Gay Street, Suite 101. That’s the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator” space at the corner of Gay Street and Union Avenue just across Union from the Embassy Suites Hotel. The public is invited. To register, click here.

“The ‘Cultivate Appalachia Bootcamp’ is a great opportunity to bring together new ideas and visionaries that are changing the face of the agriculture industry in this region,” said Lilly Tench (pictured left), Appalachian AgriFood Innovation Cluster Lead. “We have a strong cohort of entrepreneurs that represent the diverse spectrum of food and agriculture innovations that are either coming out of Southern Appalachia, or that have the potential to have a positive impact on the region.”

As noted in this November 2021 article, the Appalachian AgriFood Cluster is one of five new “Regional Innovation Clusters” (RICs) announced by the SBA and is the second RIC that has been awarded to AgLaunch or an AgLaunch subsidiary, following the February 2020 announcement of the “Mid-South Delta Agriculture Innovation Cluster.” The newest Cluster is located at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and managed by AgLaunch Engine LLC. a for-profit small business supporting regionally tailored economic development approaches that leverage farmer-led agricultural innovation. The Cluster comprises 240 counties across Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, led by a steering team of representatives from across the region.

AgLaunch Engine is a subsidiary of the non-profit AgLaunch, which leverages its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-in-class accelerator programming to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity. AgLaunch operates through 5 regional clusters located across the United States.

The participating companies are:

  • AgricultureApps,  a custom software development business that specializes in advancing the management and analysis of agricultural data. Its mission is to help scientists, researchers, and industry professionals better utilize big data for state of the art research and on-farm management through innovative software solutions.
  • Algaeo isunleashing the power of algae by building a micro carbon credit market, expanding algae built products, and providing carbon sequestration tools to everyday people.
  • Cosmic Eats is a NASA Award winning, woman-led company, focused on feeding people where food access is limited. Cosmic Eats is working with the U.S. military to generate nutritious, supply chain resilient, sustaining food solutions for people in isolated environments, whether space, the Arctic, or the deep blue sea.
  • Hemp Cattle Companyoffers first hemp-grazed and finished beef. The farmer-led company is also developing other innovative products to increase farm efficiency and treat animals more humanely.
  • Jades Elevation is a small family urban farm that focuses on providing the best hemp products from seed to experience. It describes the company’s mission as bringing craftsmanship back to the hemp industry.
  • Reniva Innovations Inc. develops novel, groundbreaking, proprietary technology solutions at the intersection of plant health and soil health to meet future needs for food and fiber in a changing climate.
  • Tree of the Field solves existing human needs by applying advanced tools of science and technology to biomass in order to manufacture proprietary products that support healthy active living. Its flagship product is the mighty Skeeterlog®, a smoke-dispersed mosquito repellant. The company makes every effort to use renewable resources, locally sourced materials, environmentally responsible practices, and humane decisions.
  • X10D, pronounced “extend,” is a Software-as-a-Service mobile and web app solution that provides a record-keeping platform for users, a decentralized educational content delivery system for tiered content creators, and a community of connection for both users and content creators. The record-keeping component enables data collection that will improve the user’s management decisions and streamline creator-to-user consultations as well as enable data aggregation that will provide tremendous value to the industry.

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