Funding / Investing / Startups

These Maryland businesses won funding from TEDCO’s rural tech initatives

Through a pair of initiatives, TEDCO made a combined nine grants and investments to businesses working on technology for kitchens, farms and more.

Innovating on the farm. By Greg Johnston

TEDCO, Maryland’s state-backed agency that provides early-stage tech funding and support, has kicked off July by with a series of funding awards for startups with a rural focus. Through the Rural Business Innovation Initiative (RBII) and the Agriculture and Rural Rebuild (ARR) Challenge nine ventures received funding.

Here’s a look at who got backing:

Rural Business Innovation Initiative

A pair of businesses focused on innovation in the kitchen received $25,000 pre-seed investments from TEDCO through its Rural Business Innovation Initiative.

“The RBII program is helping to guide companies to commercialization through mentorship and financial support,” said Jack Schammel, assistant director of TEDCO’s rural and urban business innovation initiatives, in a statement. The companies

Cide Kic, based in Sparks, was one of the companies getting backing. It seeks to modernize kitchens in rural communities with an image-based user dashboard that allows chefs to manage the workflow of their kitchen, both onsite and remotely.

Eldersburg-based Counter-Intuitive Cooking, Inc. (CICI),. also received investment. The company created a smart kitchen appliance called the SueChef, which combines a freezer and oven as well as technologies including robotics and AI, to prepare meals. In an interview with ealier this year, cofounder Max Wieder described the appliance as “not trying to replace your oven. We’re trying to augment it. We’re trying to help save you time.”

ARR Challenge

TEDCO received funding earlier this year through the state’s RELIEF Act to provide grants of up to $200K for early-stage ventures and technologists helping with economic recovery, and encourage collaboration with research institutions and industry. Dubbed the Agriculture and Rural Rebuild Challenge, the initiative included an open call to apply.

This week, TEDCO announced its seven awardees:

  • Catoctin Mountain Growers, a Keymar-based plant grower, is partnering with JumpLights, a Gaithersburg-based startup that will provide horticultural LED lighting.
  • Athena Environmental Sciences, a Baltimore-based company that created biopesticides to improve crop yields for farmers.
  • Grateful Gardeners, a Boyds-based boutique flower farm, is developing aquaponics, which utilizes fish waste in a water-circulating, closed loop system, to grow high value cut flowers year-round.
  • Croppers Farm, a Hebron-based farm, focuses on repurposing poultry houses for farmers and growers to increase productivity. It is hoping to model its production style to improve access to year-round nutritious food for all rural communities.
  • Mark Street Aquafarms, LLC, a Bel Air-based aquaculture company, will use the funds to establish a shrimp farm in Northeastern Maryland in collaboration with Balimore’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.
  • Kick Robotics, a Bethesda-based robotics company, uses robots, advanced analytics and AI to help farmers identify environmental impacts and reduce costs by reducing excess soil additives that leach into nearby waterways, and leverage “connected farms” to share soil and environmental information.
  • Eagle Eye Imaging, of Woodbine, uses drones to provide growers with remote sensing plant stress surveys. Working with Willard Agri-Service, the company expects to use the funds to create a tech-empowered workflow, from drone scouting, to weed identification and geo-location, to drone spot spraying.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: TEDCO

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