Fall 2018
Ag & Food-Tech

Consumer demand for sustainable products, coupled with the desire to understand where those products come from, has created the need for technological advancements in the agricultural value chain.

Rural economies nationwide and around the globe are struggling to maintain their local food systems and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, especially as extreme weather events become more prevalent. Vermont is a leader in the incubation and development of forward thinking food and energy businesses and is making a concerted effort to attract the next generation of climate friendly businesses to the state.

Consider some of the challenges and opportunities that we face in Vermont that are also applicable throughout the world:

Degraded water quality due to excessive phosphorus from a variety of sources.

We need new technologies that can be used to clean up impaired waters, extract excess phosphorus and repurpose it for other uses. We also need new soil monitoring, data management, and precision agriculture production technologies that can be used to improve soil health and/or water quality.

Supply chain management and traceability.

Due to new federal food safety rules and/or the need to be able to trace the sourcing of particular input attributes such as GMO-free, fair trade, and organic, new tools are needed to help food manufacturers source verify their inputs.

Food distribution in rural areas with small producers.

We need companies with innovative business models that can provide logistics support to local producers who want to reach larger markets.

Decrease overall energy usage to be more efficient and save money.

The agriculture and food manufacturing sectors are big users of fossil fuels and a lot of ‘waste’ heat that could be used for other purposes gets lost.  We need innovative energy technologies (e.g., compost heat recovery, next generation digesters, solar heat collectors) that can be of benefit to farms and food manufacturers in order to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, be more efficient, and reduce their expenses.

New market opportunities due to legalization of hemp.

Hemp can now be legally grown in Vermont and consumer interest in CDB products is exploding. While farmers are adding more acres of hemp production each year, Vermont lacks high quality processing and extraction infrastructure.

Opportunities to support universal recycling.

All over the country, communities are trying to decrease the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. Collection logistics, materials management and processing, and new biodegradable packaging technologies are in increasing demand.

Who should apply?

Entrepreneurs participating in Accel-VT come from Vermont and around the U.S. and Canada, typically at a startup or seed stage of development. Companies with at least two team members, demonstrated market adoption in the form of a pilot or paying customer and some level of investment or grant other than founder capital are encouraged to apply.

Accel-VT cohort members will be selected based on their ability to use technology to help solve pressing agriculture and food system issues facing society.

The accelerator consists of three separate, four-day, on-site “sprints”, in the Burlington area, with homework and webinars in between. As a result of our generous sponsors and partners, accommodations and meals will be provided at no cost. Cohort members provide their own transportation to and from Vermont for the three on-site sprints.

DID YOU KNOW?

Accel-VT offers cohort members more than 35 hours of time with mentors, investors and potential customers?

Advisors

At Accel-VT, we tap an innovative group of leaders who are subject matter experts and/or have deep entrepreneurial and investment experience, based on the needs of each cohort selected.

Joseph Steig

Facilitator

Bio

Joseph Steig is CFO at Long River Ventures, a seed and early stage venture fund. Long River is actively investing out of its third fund in New England and the northeastern United States with a sector focus on healthcare and enterprise IT. In addition, Joseph develops entrepreneurship curriculum and teaches in accelerator programs both in the United States and globally. He has worked in a diverse range of industries from aquaculture to Internet and has extensive consulting experience with universities and innovators on technology commercialization.

Joseph also serves on the Board of Directors of Greentown Learn, the educational non-profit affiliated with the world’s largest clean tech incubator, Greentown Labs. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada and went to Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He now lives in Massachusetts. More information at www.steig.com.

Alex Arrivillaga

Manager, US Ventures – Agriculture at Village Capital

Bio

Alex Arrivillaga is the Manager of Village Capital’s US Food and Agriculture Practice. In her previous role at the firm, she supported and facilitated the US: Education 2017 program. She has also workedas an Associate on the VilCap Communites U.S. team. Previously, Alex worked as the Director of Development for Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, a regional non-profit that lifts under-served communities out of poverty through hands-on education and job training programs. Alex was a member of the Teach for America Greater New Orleans Corps, where she taught Spanish at O.Perry Walker/L.B. Landry College and Career Prep and served as foreign language department chair. Alex received her BA from Tulane University in International Development and Spanish and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

James Macon

Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Closed Loop Capital

Bio

James Macon is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Closed Loop Capital, a venture capital fund platform founded in 2010 investing in agriculture technologies and food system innovations in the United States and Canada.  James has spent his career as a venture operator, investor and advisor taking a hands-on approach to corporate and financial design and management. Building on a foundation in financial services, technology and entrepreneurship, he has spent the past decade designing, launching and growing high-impact ventures and funds driving positive financial, social and environmental outcomes. In his work, James draws upon experiences from an array of industries including agriculture technology, food innovations, sustainable fisheries, healthcare finance, renewable energy and biomaterials.

Janice St. Onge

President,  Flexible Capital Fund

Bio

Janice St. Onge is Deputy Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund President and President of the Flexible Capital Fund (the Flex Fund). Janice brings economic and business development as well as financial expertise to the organization, having served in the technology and financial services industries, as well as higher education and state government sectors during the last 25-years. Early in her career, Janice served ten years at Peoples United Bank in Connecticut in retail management, commercial real estate lending (managing a $21 million portfolio) and organizational development roles.

David Bradbury

President, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies

Bio

With over 20 years involved in capital markets, early stage technology firms and venture investing, David is deeply experienced with economic development, working with entrepreneurs on technology commercialization and business formation, early stage ventures, and business growth strategies. Since June 2007, David has served as President and CEO of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) which is an independent non-profit organization offering venture capital, co-working spaces, start-up mentoring and networking. In 2013, VCET was ranked #11 globally and #5 in the US by the UBI Index.  When not grabbing coffee with aspiring entrepreneurs, reading technology journals or learning to code, David is snowboarding, surfing and mountain biking with his family from their home base in Stowe, Vermont. His blog on entrepreneurship and technology is www.TechCrib.org.

Sponsors & Mentors

More to come…

Jane’s Trust Foundation