AgStart forms public-private partnership to create ‘Lab@AgStart’

Woodland-based AgStart today announced a public-private collaboration to fund a new, shared-use innovation incubator in Woodland supporting innovators and startup companies in “Ag | Food | Health.”

When complete, the $1.3M ‘Lab@AgStart’ will feature a fully equipped shared-lab and kitchen space as well as a co-working office space in Woodland. Examples of innovations that the Lab@AgStart could support include environmentally friendly biocontrol products for agriculture, new drought-resistant crops, and new foods and food-as-medicine ingredients.

The collaboration includes the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Yolo County, the city of Woodland, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and a number of other private donors.

“Our region has struggled with a lack of laboratory capacity to support emerging companies pursuing science-based innovations,” explained Michael Teel, chief visionary officer of Raley’s and head of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council’s Food and Agriculture Innovation Council. “Expanding our region’s capacity to support science-based Food and Ag technology innovation strengthens our region’s leadership as an Ag | Food | Health innovation hub.”

Woodland and the Greater Sacramento region are located in the center of California’s Sacramento Valley region, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, but a region threatened by shortages of water and workforce availability. This creates opportunities for innovation – new drought-tolerant plant varieties, less-labor-intensive harvest techniques, and new foods and food ingredients — that could transform our food system.

“This land is both our past and our future, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.That’s why we’re proud to contribute significant funding for this project through our Doyuti T’uhkama partnership,” said the Tribal Council of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “The Lab@AgStart will be all about creating what comes next.”

“In recent years, the prominence of UC Davis research in agriculture, food science, and human and animal health, and the strength of California’s Central Valley agricultural economy have generated an explosion of promising startup companies pioneering innovations to improve the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of our food system”, said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, the nonprofit sponsor of the AgStart program.

“Developing these new solutions involves scientific testing, development, and refinement, requiring laboratory facilities, which are scarce throughout our Central Valley region,” Selep added. “As a result, available laboratory facilities in the Greater Sacramento region have been filled, and new lab capacity has been quickly absorbed.”