23 November 2022, California: SVG Ventures|THRIVE (https://thriveagrifood.com), a global agrifood investment and innovation platform, revealed the winners of the 2022 THRIVE Global Impact Challenge. The challenge is a global search for the most innovative startups advancing a net-zero future for agriculture.
The four winners, selected from an initial global pool of almost 500 applicants, were in three categories:
- Increasing Food Security (and grand prize) winner: Umami Meats of Singapore
- Improving Soil Health and Biodiversity winner: Verdi of Vancouver, Canada
- Reducing and Offsetting Emissions winner: California Cultured of Sacramento, California
- People’s Choice award: Biochar Now of Berthoud, Colorado
The winners were announced at the Nov. 17, 2022, THRIVE Global Impact Summit that took place at the San Jose Convention Center. In addition to themed panel discussions and industry networking opportunities, the summit showcased 10 finalists and their innovations for agriculture’s net-zero future — all aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals and key themes of COP27.
“Selecting just four agtech and foodtech winners was a monumental challenge,” said John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures|THRIVE. “But these agrifood startups stood out for their promise to deliver innovation with global impact.”
And the winners are…
Umami Meats was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 2022 THRIVE Global Impact Challenge as well as the THRIVE Winner for Increasing Food Security. The fishing industry generated $252 billion in 2021 alone, but it currently requires catching more than two trillion fish annually. Those numbers will collapse in less than a decade without a radical rethinking of seafood itself. Umami Meats is cultivating seafood, not catching it. In addition to obviating unsustainable fishing practices, cultivated seafood avoids the heavy metals, antibiotics, and microplastics now present in so many aquatic species.
Verdi won for Improving Soil Health and Biodiversity. Small farms are struggling to build, manage, and scale the precision agriculture systems needed to survive. Verdi is building tools for plant-level healthcare that enable growers to de-risk water scarcity and improve crop productivity. The Verdi Platform enables any grower to connect sophisticated software and modular hardware with a rich layer of farm data.
California Cultured took home the prize for Reducing and Offsetting Emissions. Coffee and chocolate are in crisis. The amount of land suitable for coffee and cocoa cultivation is shrinking rapidly. California Cultured is pioneering new plant cell culture technology to reproduce coffee and cocoa that requires a dramatically smaller carbon footprint.
Biochar Now was named the People’s Choice winner. Averting disastrous changes to our climate no longer rests on reigning in pollution, but also on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biochar is charcoal produced from decomposing plant matter. It can enrich the soil while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biochar Now developed a process to bind toxins during biochar production, making them easier and safer to sequester.
The audience included hundreds of other entrepreneurs, investors, students, and executives from ICL Planet, Bayer, BASF, Driscoll’s, Kubota, Alberta Innovates, Dairy Australia, La Trobe University, Invest Alberta, and Freewave, along with executives from THRIVE’s corporate partners.
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