The specialization of the accelerator/incubator ecosystem continues as Tennessee announces plans to open a agriculture business accelerator. Formed through a partnership between the Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation (a nonprofit that promotes bioscience businesses), the program will be open to 8 companies and consist of a six month program. The accelerator will offer its participants guidance and mentorship, as well as an opportunity to pitch potential investors after graduation.
With over 50 entrepreneurs showing up to a kick-off event last week, the organizers of this one-of-a-kind agricultural accelerator are optimistic that their chosen 8 companies will be world class. Areas of development that the organizers hope to focus on include precision software, grain handling and storage, food processing, tablet apps, livestock nutrition, crop production, and more. The overarching goal for the accelerator is to develop sustainable sources of food for a growing global population. “The agricultural innovation accelerator will create new synergies and opportunities for our region to address these global issues, while working locally to create an entrepreneurial culture in our rural area,” said Carol Reed, executive director of The Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center.
This accelerator is another in a long line of recently established programs with an incredibly narrow industry focus. As incubators/accelerators began to pop up like Starbucks franchises, organizers and fundraisers have found it necessary to concentrate on specific industries and verticals just to differentiate themselves. Despite this focus, most if not all accelerators still fail to improve upon the statistical failure rates for their companies. While everyone is talking about the Series A crunch now, we might well be talking about the accelerator crash next year as funds run dry. Best hopes for Tennessee’s accelerator in bucking this trend and shepherding its companies to a verdant future.
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