AgTech Nation Receives SBA Award to Strengthen National Food System, Grand Farm Featured Partner

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced AgTech Nation, a Nationwide AgriFood Innovation Network, catalyzed by AgStart, as a Stage Two winner for the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The Network will receive a $150,000 award to leverage partnerships with leading agrifood-focused entrepreneur-support organizations across the country to support the launch, growth, and scale-up of STEM/R&D-focused small businesses pioneering innovations in our global food system.

The SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition brings together organizations, entities, groups, and individuals beyond geographic boundaries to support innovators and innovation needed to confront the challenges of today. AgTech Nation is expected to facilitate a thriving national ecosystem to quickly connect innovative high growth agrifood entrepreneurs with the insights, resources and partners they need to succeed, without regard to location, gender or ethnic origin.

“American agriculture is globally competitive, and an important part of the economy of many states, particularly in rural communities. Technology innovation is essential to keep American agriculture competitive, and much of this innovation is emerging from innovative startups,” said John Selep, president of AgStart. “AgTech Nation is intended to strengthen U.S. leadership in agrifood technology by ensuring those innovative startups can connect to the resources they need to be successful. Healthy agriculture means healthy rural communities.”

AgTech Nation’s vision is to create a fertile, productive, and inclusive national ecosystem to reduce barriers for entrepreneurs commercializing innovative technologies to tackle the biggest issues in agriculture and food.

“AgTech Nation’s coast-to-coast network of agrifood-focused entrepreneur support organizations is the first-of-its-kind national collaboration focused on innovation in our global food system, addressing the challenges of sustainably feeding a growing world population in the face of finite resources and a changing climate,” asserts Selep.


AgTech Nation partners are leaders and conveners in their respective regions, providing support to agrifood entrepreneurs. Partners include:

39 North AgTech Innovation District, St. Louis, Missouri is a vibrant innovation district cultivating the infrastructure, talent, and access to capital to facilitate agrifood tech innovation and to advance ideas from lab to market.

AgLaunch, Memphis, Tennessee is a national platform of innovative farmers from diverse farming operations that crowdsource due diligence, share data, coordinate field trials, and provide investment capital to support agtech startup companies from idea-to-scale.

AgStart, Woodland, California is a non-profit incubator supporting agrifood technology startup companies in Northern California through its combination of mentorship, education, community building, and its Lab@AgStart innovation labs.

The Combine, Lincoln, Nebraska is a statewide initiative supporting high-growth entrepreneurs in food and agriculture, consisting of commercialization support through mentorship and a capital readiness program, networking events, a network of partnering producers across the state, as well as incubation space on the Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Grand Farm, Fargo, North Dakota is a collaborative network of growers, technologists, corporations, startups, educators, policymakers, and investors working together to solve problems in agriculture through AgTech and innovation.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina supports the progression of innovation from the research lab to the marketplace in crop science, animal health, food tech, and precision ag.

Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT), Salinas, California aids Western Growers’ California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico vegetable, fruit and nut membership by supporting startups with business services, including physical facilities, administration support, marketing and promotion to WG’s growers, packers and shippers.

The Water Energy and Technology (WET) Center, Fresno, California exists to address the critical nexus of water and energy resources in agriculture by testing and commercializing cutting-edge technologies/businesses, fostering interdisciplinary partnerships, and driving sustainable solutions.

“AgTech Nation aims to build a national network of entrepreneur-support organizations, a ‘Network of Networks’ focused on agrifood innovation, sharing assets and resources across geographies, climate zones and crop types,” said Emily Lohse-Busch, executive director of 39 North. “There is a powerful ‘network effect’ where we can increase the potential value for entrepreneurs, and we strengthen our communities.”

“AgTech Nation will engage organizations with critical expertise to strengthen the network’s ability to collapse barriers and expand access to underserved agrifood entrepreneurs,” said Selep. “HSMC & Advocacy Chiefs will provide expertise in SBIR and STTR programs, FourthWave Accelerator will support female founders, and Manos Accelerator will support Latino founders.”

HSMC West Lafayette, IN & Advocacy Chiefs Sacramento, CA is an experienced SBIR/STTR collaborative team that brings deep knowledge, experience, resources, tools, and relationships with participating agencies to aid small businesses in pursuing SBIR/STTR grants.

FourthWave, Sacramento, California is a leading accelerator for female tech entrepreneurs that addresses the primary impediments to startup success and charts a new course in business culture with an innovative curriculum designed to facilitate the entrepreneurs’ growth as impactful, conscious leaders.

Manos Accelerator, San Jose, California is a mentorship-driven accelerator program that provides “hands-on” education, business resources, infrastructure, capital, and guidance for promising Latino-led startup companies, moving them towards a fast track to success.

For more information about the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, please visit