An incubator program for agricultural startups that's based at Nebraska Innovation Campus has received a $600,000 grant from the federal government.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Monday that Invest Nebraska was one of 52 organizations from 36 states receiving a Venture Challenge grant to support entrepreneurship, acceleration of company growth, and increased access to risk capital across regional economies.
The "Build to Scale" program is an annual program under the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration.
Dan Hoffman, CEO of Invest Nebraska, said the $600,000 grant over three years will be used for building new programs under the Combine Incubator.
Invest Nebraska, in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, launched The Combine last October. This statewide initiative focuses on supporting high-growth agri-food entrepreneurs through mentoring, commercialization support and physical incubation space at Innovation Campus, along with a network of supporting farmers and ranchers across the state.
“Still in its first year of operations, The Combine has played a significant role in assisting early stage entrepreneurs in the agriculture technology sector” Hoffman said. “We are very pleased to receive this support and recognition from the EDA."
Current companies in the Combine Incubator are working to solve industry problems in animal health, feedlot management, agriculture equipment resale, and grain storage safety. Businesses with high-growth potential that are accepted into the program will be able to use the program as well as the space on a rolling basis.
Hoffman said the award will help Invest Nebraska provide increased support to those companies in three main ways: building an "insights network" with partners such as the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, and Nebraska Sorghum Board; helping match startups with mentors; and organizing workshops with leading agtech innovation experts
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