Four tech startups chosen to compete for $250,000

( Radicle Growth )

Four finalists have been selected to compete in the inaugural Radicle Automation Challenge for a minimum of $250,000 in investment capital.

Western Growers and Radicle Growth selected finalists for the June 26 event, which will grant a minimum of $250,000 in investment capital and exclusive access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies, according to a news release.

The finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of investors, corporate partners and agricultural pioneers who will decide whether and how much to invest, according to the release.

The winner will be announced during the pitch session and officially presented with an award later the evening of June 26 during the Western Growers’ Innovation Showcase Dinner at the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas.

The four companies were selected for their work on developing technologies that improve on-farm efficiencies and automation top ease the ag labor shortage, the release said.

The finalists are: 

  • Augean Robotics — Burro, a robot that follows pickers and functions as a virtual conveyor belt between pick points and collection points, allowing hand pickers to pick continuously rather than using up to 30% of their time shuttling produce.
  • FruitSpec — FruitSpec provides an accurate yield estimate when fruit is immature, to help make critical decisions earlier.
  • Ganaz — Ganaz helps farms recruit and engage a workforce, using a network of farmworkers and social media integrations.
  • GroGuru — GroGuru has a wireless underground sensor that can monitor, collect and analyze data, and deliver real-time results for soil and water management across all soil and crop types.

Event judges who will offer feedback, equity investment offers and acreage for use in pilot programs, are:

  • Kirk Haney, CEO and managing partner of Radicle Growth; 
  • Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner of Finistere Ventures;
  • Frank Maconachy, president and CEO of Ramsay Highlander Inc.;
  • Tom Nunes, vice president of operations of The Nunes Co. Inc.; and 
  • Wendy Srnic, research director at Corteva Agriscience—Agricultural Division of DowDuPont.