Amy Wu , The CalifornianPublished 4:50 p.m. PT Feb. 2, 2017 | Updated 3 hours ago
With a growing global population, labor shortage, rising cost of doing business, water and land limitations and the uncertainty under a new White House administration — American agtech isn’t just a fad but a necessity.
That was one of the common threads of the THRIVE Forum held at Quadrus Conference Center in Menlo Park on Wednesday.
“This is an endemic problem that society has to face, including feeding a growing population that is now consuming more,” said Puon Penn, executive vice president of technology capital at Wells Fargo, one of the platinum sponsors of the THRIVE Forum. “How will we grow enough food, and how do you bring technology and innovation to the field? We have no other choice.”
Wells Fargo has been the largest commercial agriculture lender in the U.S. for the past 19 years. The bank’s Cleantech Group, launched in 2005, was expanded to include an agtech vertical in 2015.
Opportunities for agtech startups increases as established agriculture companies such as Taylor Farms, Dole, Driscoll’s Berries and Tanimura & Antle seek ways to stay competitive with growing global competition. The companies are researching and developing new tools internally and also increasingly partnering with agtech startups.
John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners who organized the event, said SVG’s partners increasingly seek “companies with ready-to-go solutions.” This was the impetus for launching the THRIVE top 50 in January.
At Wednesday’s event at least 11 companies (from the THRIVE top 50 list), and corporations shared their agtech initiatives with a packed audience. They included: