The Western Growers’ Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) celebrated its one-year anniversary Jan. 18.
WGCIT is a premier technology incubator designed to bring entrepreneurs together with farmers to develop innovative solutions to the major issues facing agriculture.
WGCIT first opened its doors Dec. 10, 2015 with six agricultural technology (ag tech) start-up companies. In its first year, it has transformed into a hub of collaboration and innovation, including 27 startups.
“We are proud of the achievements we, and our startups, have accomplished thus far and have found our footing to create a solid foundation for the Center,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers senior vice-president of strategic planning, science and technology.
In year one, WGCIT has quickly influenced the future of agricultural technology development.
Western Growers says WGCIT has achieved many goals including:
- The launch of the first scholarship program of its kind, providing scholarship winners with residence at one of the country’s premier ag tech incubators designed to assist start-up companies who are developing agricultural technologies;
- Developed an initiative with Trace Genomics (a WGCIT resident) to launch a Soil Microbial Health Initiative designed to assist farmers in understanding how soil biology is a key factor in crop productivity, disease susceptibility, and crop quality;
- Created a partnership with SWIIM (another WGCIT resident) to help farmers conserve more water and simultaneously earn money for unused water;
- Crafted regular classes and workshops to help startups bring technology from development to production; and
- Assisted and provided resources to help the ag tech start-up companies housed at WGCIT to develop new technologies, including HeavyConnect’s Pesticide Use Reporting tool, iFood Decision Sciences’ data management app called “The Toolbox,” and more.
WGCIT plans to further ag tech in the agricultural industry at the local, state, and national levels.
Giclas noted, “The Center has grown organically and going forward we are going to take a more solutions-orientated role.”
WGCIT hired Dennis Donohue, former mayor of the City of Salinas (Calif.) who will zero in and seek out ag tech startups who are developing technologies which solve the agricultural industry’s most immediate needs.