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March 17, 2021 | Kailyn Lamb

KEC Partners with AgLaunch, LaunchTN to Create New Mentor Network

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) announced the first cohort in “The Tennessee AgTech Mentor Network,” a new program launched in partnership with AgLaunch and Launch Tennessee.

The first cohort includes three start-ups and 13 mentors, and the goal of the network is to engage industry veterans, start-up experts, and farmers and to help create a meaningful feedback loop for the start-ups in the cohort. The hope is that this will lead to additional investment and create more viable AgTech companies in the state, according to a news release from the KEC.

“We’re excited to expand our strategic initiative to develop mentor networks across the state of Tennessee, collaborate with AgLaunch and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to support this important industry that is one of the largest economic drivers in the state and across the country, and especially to welcome these three start-ups and thirteen mentors to the program,” said Van Tucker, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Launch Tennessee in the release.

In addition to building on programming already available from the KEC, AgLaunch, and Launch Tennessee, the mentor network will help the start-up founders to scale their technology with local farmers. The new network is also one of four statewide industry-specific mentor networks initiated by Launch Tennessee with other partner organizations across the state.

The first cohort of “The Tennessee AgTech Mentor Network” is:

  • S&J NanoChemicals with Founder Soubantika Palchoudhury: It is a University of Tennessee-based start-up that has developed a new fertilizer using nanoparticles with seed pre-soaking nutrient delivery. This strategy increases growth and vitality in numerous plant species. Read more about S&J NanoChemicals in this article.
  • Eden Concepts with Founder Walter Cromer: Eden Concepts is developing new planting technology for commercial vegetable, flower, and specialty farmers. The technology will reduce their energy use and improve soil health by reducing compaction. The technology will also help provide a solution for growers who have difficulty finding labor to plant crops. Read more about them in this article.
  • Liora with Founder Michelle French: Focusing on the veterinary market, Liora is developing new FDA-approved devices using biotechnology. The company’s core technology comes from an exclusive license from NellOne to use a recumbent protein in veterinary technologies. Read more about them in this article.

The 13 mentors represent a variety of industry experts and entrepreneurs, the release said. Their skillsets include legal, financial, agricultural equipment manufacturing, animal pharmacology, and entrepreneurship experience. The list of mentors is as follows:

Learn more and apply here.

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