By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology, HEC-TV | June 26, 2022
The St. Louis agtech ecosystem has coalesced its resources to attract startups to the St. Louis region by funding a growing trend in agriculture and food technologies, or what’s called AgriFoodTech. The highly successful annual Arch Grants Startup Competition launched the new AgriFoodTech track for 2022.
As many as three, or maybe up to five startups in the AgriFoodTech space will get a shot at winning a $75,000 grant and growing their idea and company in St. Louis through the new Arch Grant’s AgriFoodTech initiative.
“Since 2012, Arch Grants has funded over 200 companies in fulfillment of our mission to drive economic impact in St. louis,” said Gabe Angieri, Executive Director of Arch Grants. ”Our companies have created over 2,600 jobs in the St. Louis region, generated over half a billion dollars in revenue and attracted over $620 million in follow-on capital. The other knock-on benefits, last year our companies reported paying over $30 million in wages to St. Louis-based employees. So those are real economic impacts that we feel very proud and emboldened to go forward with our mission.”
BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, is behind an idea fueling the latest advancement in the Arch Grants mission, which is all about rallying partners to generate funding opportunities for the new AgriFoodTech track in the annual Arch Grants Startup Competition.
“It originally started in a conversation I was having with some of the Arch Grants board members who were asking me about some of the things that we had going on in the Ag ecosystem,” said Marth Schlicher, PhD, Entrepreneur in Resident with BioGenerator. “There’s many of us in the agricultural space that are anxious to create more AgFoodTech startups in the region and felt that by working together with Arch Grants, we could provide our global reach, our global presence to help attract companies to apply for an Arch Grant. Then we could all lean in and help be a part of the judging process and ultimately then be a part of mentoring and coaching those companies and working with local venture to commit to follow-on investments to help those companies be successful.”
BioGenerator, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and The Yield Lab partnered with Arch Grants to extend more funding opportunities specifically to AgriFoodTech companies in order to attract and keep AgriFoodTech companies in St. Louis.
“We accomplish that by providing non-dilutive grants. This year will be $75,000 awards across the board with an additional $25,000 for companies that move to St. Louis from outside of Missouri or 150 mile radius,” said Angieri. “It’s really the concerted effort to both recruit the best companies possible, attract funding designated for AgriFoodTech companies and then support them through a strong partnership.”
All 2022 Arch Grants winners, including other types of innovative companies, will be announced in November 2022.
“Later this year, we’ll be announcing our cohort of between 20 and 25 companies at our annual Gala November 18th,” said Angieri. “This is a very important step for us to attract even stronger, more promising AgriFoodTech companies in St Louis.”
“It’s ways to produce healthier and more sustainable food,” said Schlicher. “And that could be from a plant in the ground, that could be from a bioprocessing reactor, that could be making sure the food doesn’t spoil on the shelf.”