AgPitch startups are working on increasing crop yields and fish vaccines

The pitch competition was held Dec. 1 at the Rural Maryland Council Summit. Ben Lee of Rockville won

A basketball game at the University of Delaware arena.

(Photo by Flickr user DoD News, used under a Creative Commons license)

A pitch competition held in Annapolis last week had an eye toward innovation on the farm – whether the growing was on land or water.
For the first time, the Rural Maryland Council Summit included the AgPitch Competition. Westminster-based MidAtlantic Farm Credit was an organizer of the Dec. 1 event. The pitch competition featured five entrepreneurs.
“We received applications from nearly 40 creative and innovative entrepreneurs looking to make a positive impact on the agriculture industry,” said Andrew Rose, marketing manager with MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and one of the founders of AgPitch. “Narrowing them down to the top five was a difficult task, but we’ve never been more certain that the future of the industry is in good hands.”
Winning the competition was NABAS Group Inc. Ben Lee, of Rockville, created technology that is designed to extend the freshness of a harvest. The nano air bubble aeration system does this in part by purifying water. Lee, who is already taking the product to market, picked up the big check for $7,500, as well as accounting, legal and business services.

Here are the other four finalists who pitched:

  • Mihir Pershad, of Baltimore, is creating a vaccine for aquaculture that can be delivered by feeding fish. VakSea, which spun out of research at Inner Harbor’s IMET, is looking to sell to fish hatcheries that want to protect against disease outbreaks.
  • Bennett Wilson, of Lexington Park, is commercializing a spray nozzle technology initially developed by the Navy to help farmers spray more efficiently.
  • Rick Hood, of Thurmont, is developing a soilless growing medium for use in greenhouses, eliminating the need for crops to be wet to grow.
  • Kelton Clark, of Annapolis, wants to develop various technologies focusing around oysters and shellfish through a long-term lease at the Piney Point Aquaculture Center.


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