ProAgni, an Australian biotech company that produces methane-reducing livestock feeds and supplements, was named the $1 million grand prize winner of the 2022 Grow-NY Global Food and Agriculture Business Competition.
In its fourth year, the competition, which doles out a total of $3 million in prizes, centers on food and agriculture startups that are enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. Held during the Grow-NY Food & Ag Summit, it once again attracted exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the globe to compete in its business development accelerator and two-day pitch competition.
In all, 390 startups applied from 52 countries, including Singapore, Australia, and Sri Lanka. In the U.S., 25 states were represented, including 92 entries from New York. Thirty-eight percent of applicants included a female founder and a record 75 percent included a founder from an underrepresented minority group. The 20 finalists received dedicated mentorship from hand-selected regional business advisors leading up to the competition.
“We are honored to join the incredible roster of Grow-NY winners, and grateful to New York state, Grow-NY, and the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture for their support. We’re excited to expand our mission to revolutionize supplements and feeds for livestock that lower methane emissions into Upstate New York and the prize money will allow us to make an even greater impact,” said Lachlan Campbell, CEO and Co-Founder of ProAgni. “We’ve had an amazing experience throughout the program, from the guidance and connections our mentor Brad Goulthrope provided to the regional partners we were able to meet, to our competitors whose cutting-edge work and pitches were truly inspiring.”
ProAgni — a company that created a revolutionary range of supplements and feeds for livestock that lowers methane emissions from sheep and cattle without the use of antibiotics, decreasing a producer’s environmental footprint without increasing costs — was one of eight finalists to take home prize money. The award ceremony was held virtually on the morning of Nov. 17.
The Grow-NY competition is funded by Empire State Development and administered by Cornell University. Those selected as winners will now immediately get to work executing their business plans in New York state, leveraging the connections made and regional knowledge gained from the competition.
Beyond ProAgni, the other winners were:
$500,000 Winner: Craft Cannery — Bergen, New York
Craft Cannery takes cherished recipes from your kitchen to the shelves of grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets and beyond, specializing in the contract manufacturing of sauces, dressings, marinades, and more.
$500,000 Winner: Hempitecture — Ketchum, Idaho
Hempitecture is on a mission to create healthy, energy-efficient building materials that positively impact people and the planet by capturing carbon dioxide and replenishing farmland. Its biobased insulation makes construction projects more sustainable, healthier, and higher-performing.
$250,000 Winner: Labby — Cambridge, Massachusetts
Labby’s technology provides rapid, accurate, and affordable solutions for dairy farms, leveraging AI-enabled optical sensing for raw milk testing that delivers instant insights to your fingertips.
$250,000 Winner: Sweet Pea Plant Based Kitchen — Rochester, New York
Sweet Pea is a plant-powered kitchen creating transformative paths to wellness, combining the benefits of its plant-centric food meal service and nutrition coaching to help people to sustain a healthy life.
$250,000 Winner: Vivid Machines – Toronto, Canada
Vivid X-Vision system captures the visible and chemical details of every plant across an entire crop from bud to harvest to manage growth and predict yield, and provide means for early diagnosis of pests, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies.
$250,000 Winner: Zalliant — Amsterdam, New York
Zalliant’s IoT and artificial intelligence technologies provide value and efficiency to farmers through improved decision making and management.
Grow-NY judges based award decisions on the following criteria:
- The viability of the startup’s business model
- The diversity, quality, readiness, and completeness of the startup team
- The value that the startup offers customers
- The agrifood innovation that that the startup has invented
- The job growth and opportunity potential that the startup can bring to the region
Upon accepting the awards, the winners commit to making a quantifiable, enduring regional impact in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier during a 12-month period of agreement, creating a lasting economic opportunity in the region.
The competition also featured an “Audience Choice” award for the startup voted by the public to have the most standout and promising pitch. Seneca Farms Biochar received $10,000 in prize money sponsored by Wegmans.