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Entrepreneurs Wanted: Apply by April 29 for Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is seeking entrepreneurs to apply online for the 2023 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. Now in its ninth year, this national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies developing innovative solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

 

Farm Bureau is offering $165,000 in startup funds throughout the course of the competition, which will culminate in the top 10 semi-finalists competing in a live pitch competition in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives at the AFBF Convention in January 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything farmers and ranchers do,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The Ag Innovation Challenge is an outstanding avenue for identifying and supporting startup businesses striving to solve the problems facing rural America. I look forward to seeing the innovative, resourceful and creative solutions that Challenge applicants submit.”

Applications remain open through April 29, and the 10 semi-finalist teams will be announced Sept. 13. Each of the semi-finalist teams will be awarded $10,000 and a chance to compete to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 each. The final four teams will compete to win:

  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Winner, for a total of $50,000
  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-up, for a total of $20,000
  • People’s Choice Team selected by public vote, for an additional $5,000 (all 10 semi-finalist teams compete for this honor)


Prior to the live pitch competition, the top 10 semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

Recent winners of the Ag Innovation Challenge include Grain Weevil Corporation, a grain bin safety and management robot that improves farmer well-being by controlling risks and costs (2022 Ag Innovation Challenge Winner) and Harvust, a software platform that helps farmers successfully hire, train and communicate with employees (2021 Ag Innovation Challenge Winner). Other examples of successful Ag Innovation Challenge participants, as well as detailed eligibility guidelines and the competition timeline can be found at fb.org/challenge.

Entrepreneurs must be members of a county or parish Farm Bureau within their state of residence to qualify as top 10 semi-finalists. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can visit https://www.fb.org/about/join to learn about becoming a member.

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on April 29, 2022.

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MINI-GRANTs

Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Eligibility
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.

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Date and Time of Session: Wednesday, October 20th; 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Course Description: This presentation discusses strategies for B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) growth via marketing and sales. The presentation focuses on each company’s plans to diversify its revenue streams by using e-commerce, exporting, and overall customer acquisition tactics to support and enhance brand awareness.
Desired Prerequisite Knowledge and Experience of Attendees: There are no prerequisites for this Virtual Presentation.
Criteria for Acceptance into the Virtual Presentation: Attendees need to have a product-based business; this is not suited for technology and/or app companies.