The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), announced a partnership with Farmers Business Network, a technology enabled, direct-to-farm commerce, community and sustainability platform helping Family Farmers maximize their farm’s profit potential. With support from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, agtech startups that are currently participating in the IN2 program or that will participate in the future now have the opportunity to access a network of on-farm sites to test products and solutions on real farms.
Sustainable agtech solutions, like the ones being developed by startups in the IN2 program, are aimed at improving agricultural outputs while reducing the industry’s environmental impact. Access to real-world data on the efficacy of a particular solution is critical to the commercial success of new innovations. Testing on real-world farms provides insight into performance under realistic conditions, and across a comprehensive range of environmental conditions, farming practices and other important parameters.
The IN2 startups that leverage the partnership will test out their technologies at scale, across up to hundreds of acres on farms within the broad FBN network. FBN will leverage its network and detailed agronomic and environmental datasets to curate ideal farms for trials that test each startup’s solution inthe right agronomic conditions. Robust datasets will be collected from each trial and rigorously analyzed to develop deep insights into product performance.
“The IN2 program already offers participating agtech companies access to Danforth Center and NREL’s leading lab resources and research and development expertise. Through this new partnership with FBN, we can now also connect our cohort companies with a massive farmer network of more than 30,000 farms and 75 million acres. Through real-world testing at scale, startups will have access to invaluable information on the performance of their solutions,” said Claire Kinlaw, director of innovation commercialization at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
“FBN is thrilled to partner with the Wells Fargo IN2 program and the Danforth Center to help accelerate the commercialization of new technologies that can simultaneously benefit farmers and the environment. The IN2 program has collected an impressive roster of some of the most promising agtech startups. FBN is eager to help generate high-quality data on how these technologies perform at scale on real-world farms, with the goal of speeding the delivery of new innovations to farmers,” said Matt Meisner, vice president of R&D and data science at FBN.
IN2 and FBN will select the first participants from the group of 16 agtech startups that are currently a part of the IN2 program. Reviews and selections will take place this Fall, with the first on-farm testing taking place during the 2022 crop season.