A Cedar Rapids, Iowa agtech company that bridges the gap between producers and pigs through artificial intelligence and sensor-based technologies has been selected for the 2019 class of The Pearse Lyons Accelerator program. SwineTech is one of 10 startups chosen to work with Alltech and Dogpatch Labs to accelerate its business development. The program, now in its third year, had a record-breaking 251 startups from 53 countries apply and this year’s applicants have already raised over $143 million, with 135 startups disclosing funding.
“Through The Pearse Lyons Accelerator, we carry on my father’s legacy, his entrepreneurial spirit and his desire to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to contribute to a planet of plenty,” says Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech.
The Pearse Lyons Accelerator was the brainchild of the late Pearse Lyons, who founded Alltech, an animal nutrition company, in the early 1980s in his garage with just $10,000.
“Our class of 2019 startups focus on all aspects of agriculture, including animal welfare, meat quality, crop health and increased productivity,” says Lyons. “The final group of startups reflect the full scope of Alltech's global operations, and we believe that their technologies can help make both Alltech and our customers more sustainable, profitable and innovative.”
The participants, which hail from Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, will have the opportunity to present on the mainstage at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference. Now in its 35th year, the annual international conference will be held in Lexington, Ky., from May 19–21 and will welcome more than 4,000 agriculture industry leaders from over 70 countries.
The success of the program’s alumni reflects the high quality of the startups that The Pearse Lyons Accelerator has attracted to date. Since completing the accelerator, the startups have collectively raised $36 million. Two startups have made acquisitions, including AgriWebb, which raised $14 million in 2018 in a series A round of venture capital financing from Wheatsheaf Group, the investment fund of Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster. More recently, Allison Kopf, founder of Agrilyst, was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the Food & Drinks category. Similarly, Irish startup MagGrow raised €3 million in a round of funding, and the Indonesian startup eFishery closed a $3.5 million round of funding.
“Access to this global alumni network of extraordinary ag-tech entrepreneurs will be hugely beneficial for this new cohort of startups,” says Patrick Walsh, founder of Dogpatch Labs.
SwineTech, which began on the campus of the University of Iowa, invented a system called SmartGuard, which uses sound, vibration and a slight electrical impulse to keep baby piglets from being crushed by sows in farrowing crates. In a recent SEC filing, the company disclosed the raising of a $1.5 million debt round to begin its expansion into other states and countries.
Other startups in the 2019 class are:
- SomaDetect (Canada): In-line sensor that measures every critical indicator of dairy quality (fat, protein, somatic cell count, progesterone and antibiotics) from every cow at every milking.
- Higher Steaks (United Kingdom): Using state-of-the-art cell culture techniques, a small sample of cells from an animal will be expanded by feeding these cells. When these cells have grown, they become the desired meat product.
- Breedr (United Kingdom): The world's first app for livestock farmers that uses shared data to optimize yield, quality and profitability.
- Biome Makers (United States): Measuring crop health and functional biodiversity by using DNA sequencing and intelligent computing.
- Global Resonance (United Kingdom): Bringing real-time data from the start to the end of the food supply chain directly into business systems.
- FarmCloud (Portugal): Allows plug-and-play integration with climate and feeding controllers from a wide range of manufacturers.
- Terra NutriTECH (Ireland): Adding precise amounts of feed supplements into the water systems on farms, reducing labor and improving returns.
- FOLIUM (United Kingdom): Removal of feed bacteria via CRISPR.
- InTouch (Ireland): Online feed management solution for dairy farmers.
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