Before 2018 was through, five Baltimore agtech and aquatech startups closed out the first cohort of a new Maryland program designed to help founders build businesses and make industry connections.
At the Dec. 20 demo day held inside bwtech@UMBC, the startups that participated in the F3 Tech Accelerator pitched products to make improvements and address environmental concerns in the home, as well as on the farm.
Biotrophics Founder Sam Glickstein took home the $25,000 award on the night. As Technical.ly has reported, the startup is taking on a new form of sustainable farming by raising insects that can be used as feed. Showing the environmental angle that many of the startups addressed, Glickstein said the use of insects on the farm can help address overfishing, as fish caught in oceans is often used for fishmeal. Glickstein’s initial work includes raising mealworms at Southwest Baltimore’s Harbor Designs and Manufacturing.
The companies in the cohort also included:
- Algen Air, a startup founded out of Baltimore’s IMET that created a bioreactor using algae to improve air quality that doubles as a home decor piece.
- Cykloburn, the Morgan State spinout developing technology that allows farmers to convert chicken litter to energy.
- HiveLend, a startup connecting beekeepers and farmers to help with pollination.
- VakSea, an IMET spinout developing proteins to boost immune systems in shrimp and aquaculture.
The accelerator program was initially developed by Eastern Shore–based F3 Tech (short for Farm, Fish and Food) and Executive Director Mike Thielke. To guide the companies, the organization brought on Chris Hlubb as program director, and set out to help startups make connections around the state. A big focus of the four-month stretch was on ensuring the founders were speaking to farmers and others in the industry who would ultimately be the users of the technology, Hlubb said.
“This exceptional group of entrepreneurs demonstrates the enormous potential for Maryland to be a leader in agriculture and aquaculture technologies,” Thielke said. “We designed this business development initiative to leverage Maryland’s traditional farming and seafood industries with a network tailored to the specific needs of F3 technology startups.”
A 2019 cohort is expected to begin September 1, with applications opening May 1. In the meantime, Thielke said the organization would look to maintain ties with the startups even as the formal program is complete.
“We want to be part of your continued progress and success,” Thielke said to the founders.-30-
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