Investing in agricultural entrepreneurs

by Joel Crews
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Steve Forbes
Steve Forbes addressed attendees of an event to expose investors to ag-tech opportunities.
 
DES MOINES – Former presidential candidate, investment expert and publishing executive, Steve Forbes, discussed technology applications focused on agriculture and the opportunities during an address to an investment group earlier this month. 

Forbes was the keynote speaker at the Prairie Crest Capital Annual Ag Tech Investor conference, held in Des Moines. He said the opportunities to advance agriculture is as evident in the Midwest as anywhere in the world and additional investments in this geographical region has the potential to take technology to the next level. 

“Over the past 30 years, no industry has become more globally interconnected than agriculture,” Forbes said. “Ag companies are continuing to innovate with cutting-edge research and development. However, they cannot succeed without capital. We lead the world by being better, smarter, and not being afraid to take risks. Now is the time to take risks and invest in these new technologies allowing companies and ideas to flourish.”

One of the goals of the conference is to establish a network to connect agriculture-minded entrepreneurs with investors, according to Mark White, a partner at Prairie Crest. The opportunities are ripe for investors. 

“Although the Midwest is home to approximately 20 percent of the US population, top research universities, entrepreneurial talent and research and development spending, the region receives less than five percent of venture capital investment,” White said. “This conference was designed to connect the intellectual promise of the Midwest startup and entrepreneurial communities with the connected capital of the East and West Coasts to lead the way in changing this statistic.”

Forbes recognized and acknowledged the willingness of the stakeholders in attendance to assume risk in the name of advancing technology. During the day’s events, a diverse group of companies were given the opportunity to spotlight their technologies and ideas. Among the firms promoting and pitching ideas were: Power Pollen, Natural Fiber Welding, Ag Pixel, CropPro, Performance Livestock Analytics, Zeavaxx, Wisran, Smart Ag, Automed, Quantified Ag, Terva, Tradelanes and Green Sense Farms.

Prairie Crest Capital, a venture capital company, matches investors interested in financing entrepreneurs with innovators in agriculture.   

“Bringing national agricultural assets to the Midwest is vital in helping entrepreneurs realize their potential,” said Barry Adams, another partner at Prairie Crest Capital. “Entrepreneurs need opportunities to engage with resources (markets, capital and expertise) that are distributed nationally. By holding this conference, we were able to make that a reality. I look forward to the next few months and years as relationships built grow this industry.”

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