THRIVE AgriFood Challenge launches in Europe

SVG Ventures, a Silicon Valley based agrifood, investment and innovation firm, is an establishing partner of the Smart AgriFood Summit held June 19-21 in Malaga, Spain. Since launching four years ago, SVG Venture’s’ THRIVE Innovation platform has grown into a globally renowned AgriFood Platform, attracting partners like Corteva, Wilbur-Ellis, Land O’Lakes, Wells Fargo, Trimble, EY, Driscoll’s, and Taylor Farms.


The two-day conference will bring together more than 1,500 major stakeholders in Europe’s food and agriculture space to promote entrepreneurship and digital innovation across the region’s agriculture and value chain. Now in its second year, the summit is promoted by 'Startup Europe', an initiative of the European Commission. John Hartnett, SVG Ventures Founder and CEO, will deliver the opening keynote and will also preside over the investment selection committee. Hartnett will speak about the experiences of launching the THRIVE Venture & Innovation Platform and best practices for cities and governments looking to launch AgriFood ecosystem strategies in their respective regions. Hartnett will also speak later in the day alongside other U.S. and European investors on a panel focused on leading the expansion of venture in the agriculture and food ecosystem in Spain and other EU countries.

“SVG Ventures THRIVE has a proven track record in identifying and accelerating innovation in the food and agriculture space, with the 32 companies in our portfolio raising over $100 million to date,” said John Hartnett, CEO and Founder. “We are excited to judge the pitch sessions from top European start-ups as they compete on stage for investments. It’s an exciting time in AgriFood as the challenges of population growth, scarce resources, and labor shortages offer opportunity for entrepreneurs to innovate. Europe has proven to produce many high-quality startups including several of our startups winners, so the task ahead will be how to quicken the pace of innovation and commercialization by ensuring companies have access to capital, field trials, structural resources, and customers.”

SVG Ventures will play a strategic role in the continued expansion of private startup investment in Europe, an effort that will be further developed during an investment breakfast at the Summit, chaired by Hartnett, and attended by sector leaders including Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner of Agriculture, Phil Hogan along with 14 corporate, angel and venture entities.

 “The convergence of the agriculture sector and digital technology tools represent a major opportunity for the European continent and we are thrilled to collaborate with SVG Ventures, a global leader in agtech investment and programming, as we develop this space ,” said Juan Delgado, Vice President of the European Foundation for Innovation and Technological Development.

For more information on the summit or to attend, visit:

About SVG Ventures-THRIVE Venture & Innovation Platform

The THRIVE Venture & Innovation Platform works with leading corporations, start-ups, universities, and growers to solve the biggest challenges facing the food and agriculture industries. THRIVE hosts a highly selective program for seed and growth stage AgriFood and FoodTech startups, providing investment, top-tier mentorship, trials, and go to market support and in addition provides advisory and corporate open innovation services to the largest agriculture and technology companies.



Why We Invested: Olombria

Why We Invested: Olombria

The Challenge

Food production can be impacted by several factors, including climate change, and the availability of key resources like water, energy, labor and arable land. However, one key catalyst to food production that is often overlooked is pollination. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. According to the FAO, we know that, of all crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human consumption, roughly 75% depend, at least in part, on pollinators such as honey bees. In addition, pollinators affect 35% of global arable land, supporting the production of nearly 90 of the world’s leading food crops. But wild pollinators are under threat —according to the USDA, bee populations have been steadily declining for years now due to Varroa mite infestations, habitat loss, pesticides, weather and disease. In the USA, there has been an 18% reduction in honeybee hives since 1990. Hive prices have skyrocketed, with growers spending $400 million to pollinate almond trees each year in California alone, and an estimated nearly $3 billion spent across all crops in the USA each year. If this alarming trend continues, we are facing a loss or severe yield decrease of several critical fruits and crops we currently take for granted. Can you imagine a world where we have limited access to coffee, cocoa, or strawberries? The horde of dessert aficionados and coffee addicts would revolt! So the key here is either to help re-boost the honey bee population or to find an alternative pollination source.


April 4, 2019— Los Gatos, CA– The SVG Ventures-THRIVE AgTech platform announced today the nine startup finalists that comprise its 5thannual seed accelerator cohort.

Following 6 months of rigorous research and analysis these nine companies were selected from a global applicant pool of 275 companies across 67 countries. SVG Ventures-THRIVE will invest $100k in each company bringing their total investment portfolio to 39 companies and making them one of the most active AgTech investors in the sector.  Additionally SVG recently held a THRIVE-X Challenge at SXSW and invested $100k in the winning company, Agshift, and has also made a follow up investment in Microgen, one of its THRIVE III cohort companies.

The cohort’s technology categories range from big data & analytics (The Bee Corp, FarmX, Intelliconn, Wellntel, Livestock Water Recycling), to robotics (Tensorfield Technologies), next gen farms (Alesca Life Technologies), and biotechnology (Olombria, ProteoSense), and address key agriculture and food challenges such as food safety/security, labor shortages and resource constraint/environmental concerns.

The nine startups will participate in the SVG Ventures-THRIVE Accelerator Program, a four month program which kicked off in February and culminates at the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day during the Forbes AgTech Summit on June 26 in Salinas, California. Over the course of the intensive accelerator program, companies will be provided live and virtual coaching covering topics such as go-to-market strategy, supply chain, field deployment, fundraising and global expansion. The accelerator program  emphasizes critical industry relationships and market traction by providing top tier agriculture, business and technology mentorship and connecting startups with THRIVE’s corporate innovation partners.

“Each year, we are truly impressed with the caliber of our startup teams and the quality of their technology solutions and this year is no exception,” said John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures-THRIVE. “We look forward to helping our THRIVE V startups succeed and scale their solutions for real impact in the food and agriculture industries over the course of the next few months.”

Register now for the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day.




Creates next-gen urban farming solutions (i.e. in shipping containers) using advanced software technology.

Leadership: Tsuyoshi Stuart Oda, CEO

Location: China

Alesca Life is an agricultural technology company that builds weatherproof, cloud-connected farms to enable local food production by anyone anywhere. The startup was founded in August 2013, and over the past 5 years has developed hardware, IoT and IT products to modernize the agricultural industry and dramatically improve productivity, consistency, and efficiency.


Predictive data analytics and infrared technology for beehives to monitor hive-health.

Location: Bloomington, IN

Leadership: Ellie Symes, CEO

The Bee Corp’s product, Verifli applies data analytics to beehives to help growers ensure effective pollination through infrared inspection technology. The Bee Corp increases yield for farmers by monitoring the number, health and distribution of pollinating bees. Since launching the product February 2019, The Bee Corp has inspected over 6,700 beehives.


Precise irrigation optimization from a comprehensive sensor package.

Leadership: Tushar Dave, CEO

Location: Berkeley, CA

FarmX uniquely provides farmers with a complete monitoring and analysis solution that improves productivity immediately. FarmX scales quickly and appeals to all types of farmers with its analytics-service model. FarmX differentiates in its full-spectrum analytics offering which combine PCA, irrigation management, crop advisory services and adverse conditions monitoring into one simple solution.


Leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition, management, connectivity & remote monitoring.

Leadership: Ken Jackson, CEO

Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Intelliconn manufactures and sells leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition and management as well as farm connectivity and remote monitoring and control solutions.


Creating value for  food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids.

Leadership: Karen Schuett, CEO

Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada

The LWR System is the only proven commercialized technology that reduces the overall volume of manure, concentrates nutrients into a valuable solid fertilizer, a crop additive liquid fertilizer, and delivers a renewable, high-quality water source.


Insect pollination solution that curates fly behavior to increase pollination and ensure greater crop yields.

Leadership: Tashia Tucker, CEO

Location: London, UK

Olombria uses specific species of flies to supplement bees as primary pollinators. Flies already do about 30% of the world’s pollination, but the Olombria technology substantially increases their effectiveness. They use advanced, natural chemical signaling and mapping technologies to choreograph their behavior, placing them just where the crops need them to be.


Solid-state biosensor technology for food safety testing.

Leadership: Mark Brynes, CEO

Location: Columbus, OH

ProteoSense LLC is commercializing RapidScan™, a solid-state biosensor technology for food stafety testing. ProteoSense’s high-sensitivity field portable system detects foodborne pathogens without incubation, reducing total test time from days to minutes – a 10x improvement over existing tests. Partnering with Taylor Farms, a leading producer of fresh-cut vegetables, ProteoSense is developing tests for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Listeria – the primary foodborne pathogens – that can be administered on-site by non-technical personnel.



Collaborative robots that perform non-invasive, no-herbicide weeding using thermal micro-dosing techniques.

Leadership: Xiong Chang, CEO

Location: San Jose / Salinas Valley

Tensorfield Agriculture is building the next generation of agricultural machines, initially to address three primary concerns of growers worldwide: the cost and availability of labor, the threat of herbicide resistance and the anticipated legislative burdens around using existing herbicides. The science is clear: the only way to mitigate the threat of herbicide resistance is to reduce or end our reliance on them, with the only viable alternative being the development and commercialization of new strategies for weed control. They leverage our deep manufacturing ties in Shenzhen, China to iterate fast and produce robots that can scale to multiple geographies and crop types: robots that they believe are the future of maintaining our ongoing supply of safe, sustainable fresh food.



Wellntel’s groundwater monitoring technology and insight  make groundwater visible and manageable.

Leadership: Marian Singer, CEO

Location: Morro Bay, CA and Milwaukee, WI

Wellntel is a groundwater-level monitoring technology and information system company. They sell sensor equipment, field services and cloud-based data services to turn irrigation wells into real-time groundwater supply monitoring points. With Wellntel, farmers and growers get the groundwater supply and seasonal trend data they need to inform operational plans, measure progress and sustainably manage their resource.



About SVG Ventures-THRIVE

SVG-THRIVE is the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors. With a community of over 1,500 startups from 67 countries, the THRIVE platform invests, accelerates and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs to scale globally. SVG Ventures-THRIVE is based in Silicon Valley, California.


Applications to THRIVE’s Seed Accelerator closed October 31 and we are delighted to announce that we received nearly 300 applications from 55 countries. Going into its fifth year, THRIVE continues to expand its presence in new regions around the world with the help of our corporate partners including Coca Cola, Trimble, Heidenhain, Taylor Farms, EY, Driscoll’s Berries, Land O’Lakes, Verizon, Wells Fargo and Corteva Agriscience and global affiliates.

Technologies from applicant companies covered an equal distribution between next gen farms, big data analytics, food tech and supply chain, with robotics and automation, biotechnology and e-commerce solutions representing a smaller but significant share of this year’s cohort pool. The problem areas addressed by these companies include crop protection and nutrition, farm management, labor and food security.


In the coming weeks, all applications will be reviewed THRIVE’s SVG team and corporate partners, with ten companies selected to participate in the accelerator program kicking off during THRIVE’s Seed Camp in spring 2019. The ten selected companies will be announced in February 2019.


Other THRIVE News:

Registration open for THRIVE Innovation Summit March 27: 
Hosted for the third year on March 27 at Santa Clara University, the THRIVE Innovation Summit will bring together 250 agribusiness leaders, investors, growers, and agtech and foodtech startups from around the world to discuss the challenges and solutions for the agriculture industry. We are pleased to welcome Beth Ford, CEO, Land O’Lakes as our keynote speaker. Agenda topics include Blockchain – ‘Solving Agricultural Supply Chain Problems One “Byte” at a Time’, ‘Mega City Farming – How Indoor and Vertical Farming Can Help Feed the World’, ‘The Potential of Biotechnology – Addressing Critical Food Security Issues’, and ‘Automated Agriculture – Robots From Planting to Harvest’. Register now.

Nominations for THRIVE’s 2019 TOP 50 are open:

THRIVE is looking for agtech startups disrupting the agriculture and food sectors through innovation and technology to be a selected as part of THRIVE’s Top 50. Companies are required to have a product in market and be at least series A+ in order to qualify for Top 50. Nominate now.



PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 12, 2018SVG Partners announced today that Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) has become the latest corporate partner to join the THRIVE AgTech Venture & Innovation Platform. Trimble’s broad range of GPS, variable rate implement controls, wireless communications and analytics software is increasingly delivering new capabilities for agriculture. The new relationship between Trimble and SVG’s THRIVE platform signifies the continued commitment to advancing a safer and more sustainable agriculture supply chain and to providing innovative solutions to farmers and their production partners worldwide.

SVG Partners and Land O’Lakes, Inc. Extend AgTech Innovation Relationship for Next Three Years

SVG Partners and Land O’Lakes, Inc. Extend AgTech Innovation Relationship for Next Three Years

SAN FRANCISCO (November 13, 2017) – SVG Partners announced today that one of the leading agriculture cooperatives, Land O’Lakes, Inc., has renewed its commitment to the THRIVE AgTech Venture and Innovation Platform for the next three years. In 2016 and 2017, Land O’Lakes brought its knowledge and experience as a judge and mentor to THRIVE, a highly selective investment program accelerating technology-enabled agricultural startups in the U.S. and globally. To date, Land O’Lakes distributes over 30 AgTech solutions through its Winfield United AnswerTech™ platform and with the help of SVG Partners’ and the THRIVE Accelerator, works to identify the next generation of breakthrough companies.

Clinton Talks Technology

The Democratic Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton unveiled her technology manifesto, which includes a plan to upskill America for the 21st century and invest in female entrepreneurs. Her manifesto also includes a plan to invest in computer science and STEM education.

A Five Point Plan:

  • Investing in computer science and STEM education to boost the human capital pipeline
  • Rolling out broadband for all Americans and laying the groundwork for the next generation of the mobile internet and the internet of things
  • Ensuring the US maintains its role as a leading country for technology by ensuring more tech exports and the free flow of data
  • Supporting innovation by creating rules that foster healthy competition and intellectual property and safeguard privacy. This suggests Clinton has plans to take on the blight of the patent trolls that are stifling America's innovation economy
  • Looking at e-government initiatives to make government smarter and more efficient

Clinton has pointed out that only one in five Americans has ever taken a computer science course, at a time when there we ore than 500,000 well paying tech jobs unfilled last year. By 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs in America but only 400,000 computer science jobs to fill them.

If elected President, Clinton plans to provide every student in the United States with the opportunity to learn computer science by creating new computer science grants called CS-i3. She also plans to engage the private and non-profit sectors to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade.

The overall subject of STEM education will be tackled, with under-represented populations given priority. According to Clinton, less than 40 percent of high school graduates have taken a physics course and the lack of STEM education is even more pronounced in schools with students of color.

To build the human talent pipeline for 21st century jobs, Clinton proposes to provide continued access to higher education and training opportunities for people at all stages of their career. Her plan also proposes $10b of federal funding to enable students to participate in new kinds of education programs, from nanodegrees to accelerated learning programs around coding and technical training.

A core aspect of Clinton's tech agnda involves diversiofying the tech workforce with a special emphasis on the advancement of minorities and women in research, tech and engineering.

She said that diversifying the tech workforce can generate an additional $500b in new value for the tech industry and boost America's GDP by up to 1.6%.

Clinton has pointed out the percentage of bank loans that have hone out to small businesses has declined by a third since 2000 and that 70% of venture capital is clustered mostly around three states. In addition, she notes that only 7% of VC goes to firms with women founders and a mere 1% is directed to African American women founders. 


CEO and Founder of SVG Partners John Hartnett has been appointed to chair a new group that will advise the Northern Ireland Executive on trade and investment opportunities

John Hartnett will advise the executive on west coast and Silicon Valley trade openings

John Hartnett will advise the executive on west coast and Silicon Valley trade openings

From BBC News

Two prominent US-based businessmen have been appointed to chair a new group that will advise the Northern Ireland Executive on trade and investment opportunities.

The first and deputy first ministers made the announcement on a US visit.

Shaun T Kelly will advise on east coast opportunities and John Hartnett will advise on the west coast and Silicon Valley.

Mr Kelly, from Belfast, is the New York-based chief operating officer of professional services firm KPMG.

Mr Hartnett is the founder of SVG Partners, a technology investment company.


The men will assist Invest NI in developing opportunities as part a renewed effort investment effort that involves lower corporation tax.

The tax rate in Northern Ireland is due to be cut to 12.5% in 2018.

Shaun T Kelly said a lower rate of corporation tax would make Northern Ireland "a much more attractive proposition" for potential investors

Shaun T Kelly said a lower rate of corporation tax would make Northern Ireland "a much more attractive proposition" for potential investors

Mr Kelly said Northern Ireland was working in a "very competitive environment" but does stand out to potential investors.

"[Companies] are also looking at eastern Europe, India, Asia," he said.


"Yes, Northern Ireland is definitely on the map, but it's competitive and that's where the lower corporation tax is going to really help.

"It makes [Northern Ireland] a much more attractive proposition."

First Minister Arlene Foster said it was important to have "two men who know Northern Ireland very well, situated here in the United States to advocate for us".

"We will come to the United States and talk to people of influence, but they are here all the time and we felt they could help us bring more jobs to Northern Ireland."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the two men were "doing this because they are emotionally and intellectually engaged in trying to assist our process".

In its Second Year, Thrive Accelerator Sees Twice as Many Applicants

Salinas, CA -- After a successful first year, the Thrive Accelerator program ( has seen a doubling of applicants for its second class. By the deadline of Jan. 31, nearly 200 agtech startups had applied for one of 10 slots in the eight-week Thrive program, which includes mentoring, strategic consulting, matchmaking with technology users, pitch training and a demo day.

The most promising of the applicants will be invited to a March 23 "Seedcamp" pitch session, after which the top 10 will be chosen by a jury that will include industry experts, investors and Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz.

San Jose-based SVG Partners ( will help selected startups secure funding. Winners will also be recognized at the second Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit, to be held in Salinas July 13 and 14.

Last year's first place Thrive winner was Nuritas (, a company focused on "the discovery of novel and natural active ingredients with scientifically proven health benefits." 

"Winning the Thrive Accelerator award delivered in so many ways," said Nuritas founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Nora Khaldi. "However, two vital areas stand out above all others. Firstly it provided Nuritas with the oxygen of great publicity throughout the full arena of our key national and international stakeholders. It then also provided invaluable connectivity at the highest levels of industry through ongoing face-to-face opportunities. Thrive Accelerator and Salinas have been true rocket fuel to Nuritas."

SVG Partners CEO John Hartnett, Forbes Media Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes, and Nuritas Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Nora Khaldi at the Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit, July 8, 2015.    A high resolution version of this photo will be available temporarily for download from  this link .

SVG Partners CEO John Hartnett, Forbes Media Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes, and Nuritas Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Nora Khaldi at the Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit, July 8, 2015.

A high resolution version of this photo will be available temporarily for download from this link.

The Thrive Accelerator is a part of a strategy developed by the City of Salinas and SVG Partners to establish Salinas as an agtech capital. That strategy is based on building an ecosystem for agtech business development based on the region's existing strengths: land, climate, knowledge, its status as an ag capital, and its location in one of most innovative parts of the world. The strategy's components include education; research; access to investors, customers and partners; marketing; and active assistance to promising startups.

Thrive's accelerator program is one form of that assistance; another is the incubator established by the Western Growers Association in the new Taylor Farms Building. The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology comes with an initial $4 million investment fund seeded by the WGA.

Thrive is now an international community of more than 500 food and agtech entrepreneurs, professionals, and industry experts.

This year's Thrive program applicants come from 36 countries in the USA, Europe, Asia, and South America. They represent a range of agtech sectors, including cleantech, precision farming, farm management, food innovation, food packaging, food safety, biotech, alternative growing, production efficiency, and robotics.

"With Salinas as its base, Thrive is bringing together a global network of innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and technology and ag companies," said John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners. "They're drawn together by the huge opportunity that arises from a huge challenge: feeding the world, sustainably."

"We're delighted that so many entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders see the potential we see," said Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter. "Salinas has a history as a leader in ag. Our future is as a leader in agtech."

Photo and Graphics

Go to this temporary link to download:

  1. High resolution photo of John Hartnett, Steve Forbes and Nora Khalid (as above)
  2. City of Salinas logo
  3. Thrive Accelerator logo
  4. SVG Partners logo

Recent Media Coverage

Los Angeles Times: "Salinas hopes to turn farm workers' children into computer scientists"
Salinas Californian: "Salinas new home for innovation, technology in ag biz"

More Information

Thrive Accelerator:
SVG partners:
City of Salinas business development:

Calling All AgTech and FoodTech Entrepreneurs!

Calling All AgTech and FoodTech Entrepreneurs!

Join the most vibrant innovation ecosystem shaping the future of Food and Agriculture. Apply before January 31, 2016 for the second annual THRIVE Accelerator Program.   

THRIVE Accelerator brings together a powerful community of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and technologists, all with a common trait: the ability to dream big and execute on a vision for making an impact on the world of food and agriculture through technology. Through THRIVE, select companies will gain access to the best expertise and resources of top agriculture and tech leaders to help deploy their innovative technologies. There is no cost to participate. 

THRIVE Accelerator is an 8-week program for startup companies in the Ag Tech or Food Tech space from around the world. It begins in Spring 2016 and culminates with ten finalists highlighted at the Forbes AgTech Summit in the Summer of 2016.