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Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Selects Five Startups Focused on Sustainable Food Production

John Jannarone

Partnership with St. Louis’s Danforth Center seeks to
accelerate technologies that advance the U.S. agriculture industry

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Wells
Fargo Innovation Incubator
(IN2), a technology incubator
and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by
the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory
, today announced it has selected five
early-stage companies for the program’s first “agtech” cohort. Each
company participating in this invitation-only program will receive up to
$250,000 in non-dilutive funding and hands-on technical assistance to
further develop and validate their technologies with the Donald
Danforth Plant Science Center
, the world’s largest independent plant
science institute.

IN2 launched in 2014 with a focus on supporting scalable
solutions that improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. It
expanded its charter in 2018 to advance the agriculture industry, which
accounts for approximately 70% of the water and 14% of the energy usage
worldwide. In expanding into agriculture, IN2 aims to speed
the development and commercialization of technologies that help the
agriculture sector overcome barriers and costs of implementing
sustainable farming solutions.

To help guide the selection process for the first agtech cohort, IN2
commissioned a white paper entitled “IN2
Food, Energy, Water Landscape
” to determine where its impact would
be most beneficial. Portfolio companies selected for IN2’s
first agtech cohort are advancing technologies that focus on sustainable
crop production and yield. They are:

  • Aker
    Technologies
    , Chicago, automated crop-scouting process that
    captures and analyzes the presence and intensity of pests and
    pathogens below the crop canopy.
  • CoverCress,
    St. Louis, winter crop that covers soil during winter, protecting it
    from harsh conditions while producing a low-carbon intensity crop for
    renewable fuel and food.
  • Intrinsyx
    Bio
    , Los Altos, Calif., plant probiotics that increase crop yield,
    reduce excess fertilizer and improve soil and water conditions.
  • RNAIssance
    Ag
    , St. Louis, safe, effective and environmentally sustainable
    insecticide for precision pest management.
  • SolGro,
    Arlington, Texas, nanoparticle film designed to increase crop
    productivity through light conversion on greenhouses.

With the addition of these five companies, IN2 brings its
total portfolio count to 30 cleantech and agtech startups. Since joining
the IN2 program, portfolio companies have raised $142 million
from external follow-on funding — on average, more than $20 for every $1
awarded by IN2.

Wells Fargo, IN2 and agriculture: A study in
sustainability

Wells Fargo has a long history of working with farmers and companies
throughout the agriculture value chain,” said Ramsay Huntley, Clean
Technology and Innovation Philanthropy program officer for Wells Fargo.

This program expansion into agriculture aligns with our philanthropic
mission to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy by
supporting innovators and entrepreneurs focused on sustainable ideas
that can shape the future of farming.”

Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory, said, “We are very excited to be working with the
Danforth center to test and validate our next cohort of companies.
Looking at how our food, water and energy resources can be used more
efficiently and effectively is a big part of the mission of this
program. We look forward to working with these companies and the
Danforth center in addressing that challenge.”

The partnership between the IN2 program and the Donald
Danforth Plant Science Center was announced at the annual Ag Innovation
Showcase in fall 2018. The Danforth center will focus on the research
and validation of the five companies’ innovative solutions that address
how to use digital agriculture to produce food more sustainably.

These five companies are driving innovation and new breakthroughs that
will ultimately improve the way that we make food, distribute food,
consume food and use resources,” said Sam Fiorello, chief operating
officer at the Danforth center. “

We are proud to be a strategic partner
to help further develop and validate promising technologies to tackle
these critical challenges.”

IN2 finds and selects companies through its Channel
Partners
, a curated network of incubators, accelerators and
universities across the U.S. that refer startups to the program. Once
referred, companies participate in a highly competitive application and
selection process to determine which will be invited into the next
cohort of participants.

For a complete list of IN2 portfolio companies and Channel
Partners, visit in2ecosystem.com.

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is a $30 million
technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, IN2’s mission is to
speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology
entrepreneurs. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting
scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings,
IN2 expanded its focus in 2018 to advance technologies that
address the interconnection of food, energy and water. Companies
selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in
non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation
from experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and
ongoing connections to organizations across value chains. For more
information, visit in2ecosystem.com.

About Wells Fargo

Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo &
Company (NYSE:WFC) provides banking, investment and mortgage products
and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800
locations, more than 13,000 ATMs and the internet (wellsfargo.com).
In 2018, Wells Fargo donated more than $444 million to nearly 11,000
nonprofits in support of affordable housing, small business growth,
financial education and sustainability, among other community needs. For
10 consecutive years, Wells Fargo has held the honor of No. 1 in
workplace giving by United Way Worldwide. Wells Fargo team members also
make a difference by donating more than 2 million hours of volunteer
time in the last year. News, insights and more information on the
company’s corporate responsibility are available at Wells
Fargo Stories
.

About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a nonprofit
research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through
plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at
the nexus of food security and the environment and position the St.
Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is
funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National
Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through the
support of individuals and corporations. For more information please
visit, www.danforthcenter.org

Contacts

Wells Fargo Media
E.J. Bernacki
415-840-4469
ejbernacki@wellsfargo.com

or

IN2
Media

Bill Rigler
917-415-0612
brigler@mapr.agency