The American Farm Bureau is accepting nominations for its Innovation Challenge
By Diego Flammini
A national farm organization is on the hunt for startups offering solutions to ag industry hurdles.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is accepting applications for its 2021 Ag Innovation Challenge.
“The competition is now in its seventh year,” Sarah Brown Dirkes, executive director of industry relations with AFBF, told Farms.com. “We award $145,000 in startup funds to 10 businesses. We’re looking for companies that create solutions to the challenges that American farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.”
Entrepreneurs have until Aug. 14 to apply for the contest.
Once the application window closes, an industry panel will select 10 teams on Oct. 5 as semi-finalists. They’ll have the opportunity to participate in a pitch competition at the January 2021 AFBF Convention in San Diego, Calif. Each of the selected teams will receive a prize of $7,500.
Four teams will move onto the final round and receive another $7,500 each. They’ll compete for the $50,000 grand prize of Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year and the People’s Choice Award, which comes with a cash prize of $20,000.
Preparations are already underway should the competition have to move to a virtual format, Dirkes said.
Companies from past years used the experiences from the innovation challenge to further their success.
“We hear over and over that the funds were great and critical for the business, but the exposure and the networking that the competition provides is invaluable and really made a difference,” Dirkes said.
Rantizo, for example, is a drone company that participated in the 2020 event. Recently, company representatives entered into an agreement with Major League Baseball to provide aerial applications of sanitizer at baseball stadiums.