Accelerating Climate-Smart Agtech 

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Technology Strategy

Fresh Field Catalyst, an IFPA Technology Accelerator

We live in an era of rapid technological advancements and a growing emphasis on sustainability. Emerging as a trailblazer in fostering connections between tech visionaries and the fresh produce industry is the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) Fresh Field Catalyst technology accelerator.

On a recent episode of the Tip of the Iceberg Podcast, we sat with IFPA’s VP of Innovation, Vonnie Estes, to discuss how the accelerator program builds bridges and creates a dynamic ecosystem focused on nurturing climate-smart companies.

The Nexus of Tech and Fresh Produce

Fresh Field Catalyst is a nexus where technology and fresh produce intersect. It catalyzes collaborative efforts by bringing together technical innovators and leaders in fresh produce.

Estes remarks that the impetus for launching the accelerator was the same that has guided her career path, “How can we grow food better, for better nutrition and a healthier planet?”

Climate-Smart Companies at the Forefront

One of the standout features of the accelerator is its dedicated focus on climate-smart companies. The program recognizes the urgent need for innovative solutions to the produce industry’s challenges. From labor shortages to climate change and resource scarcity, startups and companies outside traditional agriculture can bring fresh perspectives and potential solutions.

Estes says that while the IFPA provides a low-barrier application process for entrepreneurs, they are looking for innovators who have already done some of the leg work, preferably those with products that can be field-ready within the next couple of years.

Fostering Innovation

Participants in the program are guided and supported through the process. The program provides access to IFPA proprietary data and analytics, mentorship, and support to translate existing and potential technology into the ag market.

To jump-start the experience for accelerator participants, they are first taken on a week-long tour to meet face-to-face with leaders in fresh produce to address the knowledge gap between producers and innovators. These industry leaders are willing to lend their insight and are open to on-site, often in-field, problem-solving discussions. “The program’s main benefit is we are immersing you in the industry,” Estes added.

Looking Ahead

The program creates an environment where disruptive ideas can thrive by facilitating collaboration between tech visionaries and the fresh produce sector. Estes said, “Implementing these innovations isn’t likely to occur with any haste if developers don’t fully comprehend the market they’re looking to serve, which is where the Fresh Field Catalyst program comes in.”

In the quest for ag innovation, the Fresh Field Catalyst program stands out as a spark for tangible change, collaboration facilitator, and sustainability champion.

The program is constructing a foundation for a more resilient, efficient, and sustainable food supply chain by bridging the gap between tech visionaries and the fresh produce world.

Applications for the next Fresh Field Catalyst program intake will open in February 2024.

Listen to the Podcast

For more insights and commentary, listen to the entire conversation on The Packer’s Tip of the Iceberg podcast in the player above or published here.

We launched an informative and entertaining 12-episode podcast series talking all things ag tech, from new tech applied to organic fruit to cybersecurity, AI, robotics, and everything in between. We will be joined each episode by a respected thought leader in the industry who will share their knowledge and learnings with all of us. Join us as we uncover how technology reshapes the agricultural landscape and drives farming practices.

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