The Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) announced the launch of AgStart, SARTA's newest industry-cluster-focused program, which will accelerate the growth of companies developing and bringing to market innovative sustainable agricultural technologies or ag tech.

"Currently, there is a huge and growing need for agricultural technology to increase productivity and yield, improve cost effectiveness, and enhance the efficient use of resources such as water, energy, and land. Ag technologies can, among other things, turn farm waste into energy, improve the drought tolerance of crops, increase food safety, provide for integrated pest management, drive the efficient use of water, and so much more," said Meg Arnold, SARTA CEO. "The Sacramento region has a long-standing legacy of success in agriculture and food systems, and today is poised to deliver new technology that will dramatically change agriculture as we know it."

AgStart was founded when SARTA, in partnership with University of California, Davis, received a $1 million i6 Challenge Grant to foster agricultural technology innovation in the Sacramento area region. SARTA's activities under the grant will be delivered by the new AgStart program, while its partner UC Davis has launched the Sustainable AgTech Innovation Center (SATIC). Together, the partners are working together to identify and accelerate new ventures focused on sustainable agriculture through the region.

According to 2012-2013 California Department of Food and Agriculture statistics, California's agricultural production is more than $43 billion strong. California produces more than 400 commodities and nearly half of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States. Globally, California is the country's largest agricultural producer and exporter.

The Sacramento area region plays a critical role in agriculture for California, the United States and the world. The region also boasts one of the preeminent sources of ag-related intellectual knowledge and research through the multiple strengths of the University of California, Davis, including the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

AgStart will hold its inaugural launch event on Tuesday, June 25, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., at Club Pheasant in West Sacramento. Agricultural technology startups, entrepreneurs, visionaries, industry veterans, farmers, ranchers, supporters and other stakeholders will be in attendance.

Following its launch, AgStart will also make available seed grants to companies commercializing AgTech innovations; will host a "pitch competition" for Ag tech companies; will represent the region as an Ag tech hub at the Ag Innovation Showcase in Kansas City, Mo,. in September; and will integrate Ag tech innovation content into SARTA's annual CleanStart Showcase on October 16.