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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
March 09, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Thousands of dollars in funding available for ag start-ups

Now in its 10th year, the "Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge" offers a total of $165,000 in prize money over several stages.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is seeking entrepreneurs to apply online for the “2024 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge.”

Now in its 10th year, this national business competition showcases U.S. start-up companies developing innovative solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. And to make applying worthwhile, Farm Bureau is offering $165,000 in start-up funds throughout the course of the competition, which will culminate in the top 10 semi-finalists competing in a live pitch competition in front of Farm Bureau members, investors, and industry representatives at the AFBF Convention in January 2024 in Salt Lake City, UT.

Several Tennessee-based start-ups have done well in the competition in past years.

  • In the inaugural year, a three-person team of University of Tennessee students – two from the Knoxville campus and one from Martin – won the “People’s Choice Award.”
  • mobius, then known as Grow Bioplastics and founded by Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle, made it to the finals in 2016.
  • The next year, Alex Adams and his GeoAir start-up reached the finals.

Applications are being accepted through May 12, and the 10 semi-finalist teams will be announced on September 12. Each of the semi-finalist teams will be awarded $10,000 and a chance to compete to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 each. The final four teams will compete for the following prizes:

  • $50,000 for the “Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge” winner;
  • $20,000 for the runner-up; and
  • $5,000 for the “People’s Choice” winner selected by public vote.)


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