Press Release Provided by Western Growers
3Bar Biologics walked away from Western Growers/S2G Ventures’ AgSharks® Competition with a $250,000 equity investment offer to take its microbe technology from development to market. The seed funding was awarded by S2G Ventures after 3Bar Biologics competed against four other companies inventing new technology solutions to solve agriculture’s most pressing issues.
In addition to investment capital, 3Bar Biologics will receive international recognition, mentoring from WG and S2G, potential access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies and exposure to WG’s expansive network of leading fresh produce companies.
3Bar Biologics is the global leader in customized technologies and bio-manufacturing solutions for living agricultural microbe products.
“In an industry forced to shoulder the crushing weight of poorly designed regulations, perpetual labor shortages and water supply insecurity, innovation is essential,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “3Bar Biologics embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that will help our farmers overcome these challenges and continue to feed the world.”
“The AgSharks Competition continues to bring together leading growers and entrepreneurs in the space,” said Aaron Rudberg, Managing Director and COO, S2G Ventures. “We’re thrilled to have selected 3Bar Biologics at this year’s competition. The biologics market is rapidly growing, but struggles with issues of efficacy and stability and 3Bar’s innovative solution is poised to solve many of these challenges. We are excited about investing in Bruce and his team and being their partner in their growth.”
“We are so excited to win this year’s AgSharks among such an outstanding group of agtech startups,” said 3Bar Biologics CEO Bruce Caldwell. “The access at this conference to industry leaders, venture capitalists, and western produce growers has been exceptional. Our business is all about partnerships, and this event is helping us to expand our network and increase our impact on agriculture and the world. I would like to thank Western Growers and S2G Ventures for putting on such a high impact event.”
During the competition, the agtech startups pitched to six expert judges and a live audience where they were evaluated on the strength of their solution and potential to scale, among other assessment categories. The panel of judges, which was comprised of venture capitalists and leaders in the agricultural industry, provided feedback to each startup and advanced 3Bar Biologics to earn the investment offer.
The judges’ panel was:
Alexandra Allen, Compliance Counsel, Main Street Produce, Inc.
Audre Kapacinskas, Vice President, S2G Ventures
Frank Maconachy, President and CEO, Ramsay Highlander, Inc.
Dominic Muzzi Jr., CEO/COO, Muzzi Family Farms, LLC
Cristina Rohr, Principal, S2G Ventures
Aaron Rudberg, Managing Director and COO, S2G Ventures
The AgSharks competition was hosted by Stuart Woolf, President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing, and held during the Western Growers 2021 Annual Meeting at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. The audience members were encouraged to try to sway the judges’ decision by asking questions and voting via mobile app Slido to “buy, try or deny” each of the finalists’ technologies after their presentation; Naïo Technologies was the audience winner.
AgSharks premiered in 2017 with the goal of supporting game-changing startups and technologies, and since its inception, three agtech starts ups – Hazel Technologies, AgVoice and Burro – have received a total of $2.5 million in investment offers from S2G Ventures. More than 100 applicants applied for the AgSharks event in 2021.
The pitch competition is the latest WG effort to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry and support agtech startups in bringing their technology to market. Previous efforts include opening an agtech incubator — the WG Center for Innovation & Technology — in December 2015, and earlier this year launching the AgTechX Ed initiative, which provides middle school to post-graduate educational opportunities in agtech.