Student Enterprise In Agricultural Technology Awarded A $20K Venturewell Grant
Agrigatr, a start-up created by Hampshire College students to develop technology that will aid small livestock farms, has been awarded a $20,000 VentureWell grant.
Over the past two years, the Agrigatr team designed its first prototype device, the Health and Environmental Analytics Toolkit (HEAT), to save farmers time and money by alerting them when cattle are in peak fertility. The system tracks an animal’s drinking of water and makes fertility predictions in real time.
The team is currently testing its second HEAT prototype, having replaced the original flow sensor and radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader based on previous data. With this funding, Agrigatr plans to deploy and test the newest prototype on pilot farms and develop a business model.
Agrigatr was founded by recent Hampshire graduates Josh Minot, Luke Richardson, and Nicholas Lee and fourth-year student Max Cheney, all whom incorporated the development of the product into their undergraduate studies.
This grant will enable the Agrigatr team to test its latest prototype, develop an interactive user interface, conduct interviews with more farmers, meet with possible partners and stakeholders, and assess the costs of manufacturing.
Minot says that monitoring a farm animal’s water consumption can potentially save a 100-head livestock farm more than $10,000 annually.
“Our project asks ‘How do we make this technology that has been so influential for large-scale farmers and bring it down to a scale where it can benefit the family dairy farm down the road?’” says Minot. “A system like ours has been sorely missing for our target market, with other systems being too expensive to own and operate and also being too immobile for efficient use while grazing.”
VentureWell is a nonprofit organization that supports the creation of business enterprises from an emerging generation of science and technology inventors. In spring 2017, through its E-Team Student Grant Program, 19 teams from such schools as Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California Berkeley, and Oregon State University were awarded total of $185,000.
The program provides funding, workshops, peer networking, and coaching for student inventors and innovators across the United States to move their ideas out of the lab and into the market.