CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois AgTech Accelerator, a partnership between global venture firm and startup accelerator gener8tor plus Serra Ventures and a consortium of local and global sponsors, kicked off the second gBETA AgTech cohort in October. One of two annual programs hosted by the Illinois AgTech Accelerator, gBETA AgTech focuses on early-stage companies working in the agriculture and food industries.
Three of the companies selected are part of the EnterpriseWorks incubator at the University of Illinois Research Park: Agriwater, FrostDefense EnviroTech, and Epivara. A fourth company, Earnest Agriculture, launched out of the University of Illinois iVenture Accelerator. (See details about the cohort companies at the end of this release.)
gener8tor gBETA is a free seven-week, no-equity accelerator program that provides startup founders with intensive concierge coaching and access to its national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners and investors. The programs are designed to set a path for startups to participate in equity-based accelerator programs and investment opportunities. gener8tor recruited startups regionally for the gBETA AgTech program in an effort to support homegrown companies.
“We’ve been very impressed with the quality of the teams we’ve seen come through the gBETA programs,” said Dennis Beard, a Managing Partner at Serra Ventures. “These teams are working on the future of agriculture, food, and nutrition and we are excited to work closely with gener8tor
to help them succeed.”
The Illinois AgTech Accelerator is based at the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign. Together, the gBETA AgTech program partners aim to support emerging ag and food technologies by leveraging local, regional and global partnerships with investors, corporations and academic institutions such as the University of Illinois.
“Being in the epicenter of ag technology enables us to deliver unique and compelling value to the startups we work with,” said Jack Marck, gener8tor Managing Director. “Our relationships with our program sponsors and partners provide valuable resources for our portfolio companies, and we’re excited to grow our family with five more brilliant teams.”
gBETA AgTech 2022 Cohort
Agriwater implements onsite wastewater treatment systems for livestock farmers to ease the burden of waste management. Agriwater benefits livestock farms by maintaining environmental compliance, creating an additional water source, and providing recurring revenue streams from the sale of carbon credits. Agriwater has completed a successful proof-of-concept and is developing a production-scale solution in partnership with the Oak Ridge National Lab through the Department of Energy’s Innovation Crossroads program.
Earnest Agriculture develops cost-effective biological products that bring the growing power of soil amendments to commercial farmers. Earnest’s all-in-one microbial product fertilizes crops, kills insects, eliminates pathogens and manages weeds. Earnest Agriculture is an Illinois-based, C-Corp. Earnest is on track to reach $40K in monthly revenue by the end of 2023.
Epivara is in late-stage development of a line of injectable alternatives for the surgical sterilization of animals. Epivara’s innovative technology is funded by two SBIR grants (NSF and USDA), VC firms and angel investors. Pilot studies
have identified safe and effective working doses, and Epivara is in active negotiations with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
FrostDefense Envirotech (FDE)’s patented sprayable compound combats early spring frost in vineyards and specialty fruit crops. FDE is a National Science
Foundation-backed startup with ongoing field trials in the U.S. and paid field trials in Argentina. The company was founded in 2017 in Delaware and is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois at EnterpriseWorks. FDE is going through regulatory approval with plans to generate first sales by growing seasons 2024.
Shevolve Nutrition offers women a one-bite solution for comprehensive, science-backed, life-stage-specific supplemental nutrition. Shevolve Nutrition created a proprietary food-first formula that delivers vitamins, minerals and prebiotic fiber in one mini heath bar. The first product, M Bites, comes in three flavors and is targeting menopause and healthy aging. Three SKUs are in the market, growing 20+% month over month since the launch in late July of 2022 with 60% recurring customers.
Serra Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm investing in technology companies. Sectors of focus include information technology, devices/instrumentation, and agricultural technologies.
The profile of an ideal startup for consideration by Serra is one that has just finished an accelerator program, an I-Corps program or has been through a round of seed funding to establish and prove a strong product-market fit. Serra Ventures is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, with additional offices in San Diego, Park City and Chicago.
Other program supporters include Agri-Fab, GEM Realty Capital, University of Illinois Research Park, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, and BASF.
Startup companies and founders interested in learning more about gBETA’s programming and resources or applying to a future program are encouraged to visit the gener8tor gBETA website.