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Economy & Business

More women-led companies to present at Ag Innovation Showcase

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

Women are getting more involved in ag tech.

It’s evident at the Ag Innovation Showcase, a conference of agricultural innovators, scientists and investors that takes place annually at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

Six startups led by women will present at this year’s conference, which begins Monday and runs through Wednesday.

That’s a far cry from when the Showcase began in 2009. Sam Fiorello is chief operating office and vice president of administration at the Danforth Center and president of BRDG Park. He said that back then, none of the companies were led by women.

"I don’t know if we had any women-owned submissions in the whole pool," he said.

Last year was the tipping point, according to Fiorello. Four companies led by women presented. More impressive, both the winner and runner up for Ag Showcase’s Best of Show award were women.

"Some of the most innovative interesting enterprises are women-owned, and I think that trend will continue," Fiorello said.

The women-led companies that will present at this year's Ag Innovation Showcase are:

  • NeoGram is a company from Argentina working on the protein and greenhouse gas issues. The comany has bred a tropical grazing grass for cows that improves the grass to meat ratio by 37%, and cuts down on greenhouse emissions from cattle by 58%.
  • Kiverdi, from Hayward, California, eliminates greenhouse gases by recycling them through a single cell organism to produce food or fuel. It’s a new twist to an old technology used by NASA in the 1960s.
  • Cotyledon Consulting, from Canada, is solving the weed problem with “StemShock” — a biological solution to herbicide resistance.
  • Ignitia, from Stockholm, Sweden, has a scalable tropical weather forecasting model designed for small-holder farmers in West Africa that is nearly twice as accurate as existing global models, giving farmers an opportunity to increase their yield.
  • XTB Laboratories, from Davis, California, has developed early detection for a devastating disease affecting the orange industry. Florida orange growers were pummeled by citrus greening, but California’s orchards could be saved.
  • SmartVision Works, from Orem, Utah, has a patent-pending machine that can sort and classify anything as small as a micrometer. The technology currently sorts dates. 

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