AgTech Startups Selected for First IoT.ATL Living Labs Pilot

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

From cold storage and mobile crop monitoring to insect farms, the inaugural IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge unearthed several intelligent farming solutions.

Last year, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, in partnership with the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine, Georgia Power, New City Properties and AGCO, launched the IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge. The nationwide search was created to find technology solutions that would improve food resilience in metro Atlanta and abroad.

"IoT.ATL is proud to champion this collaborative and impactful project to create solutions for urban food resilience. IoT.ATL aims to leverage technology for good and create sustainable communities that are equitable and inclusive,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber Director of IoT/AI/Smart Cities Ecosystem Expansion Cynthia Curry. “The living labs project is helping realize our vision, and we are incredibly thankful to our partners for their support.”

Members of the local corporate, civic and startup communities, as well as AgTech subject matter experts, reviewed applications from several AgTech startups and ultimately selected five solutions to pilot along the Atlanta BeltLine.

"At Georgia Power, we fully understand that the health of our communities is only as strong as the well-being of its citizens," said Georgia Power Senior Vice President Bentina Terry. “The IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge winners showcase the latest innovation in urban agriculture technologies to improve food sustainability and making a positive impact on the communities where we live and work today and for tomorrow.”

The winning solutions include:

• HATponics and HipScience – HATponics and Hip Science are teaming up to create a near-zero input farm facility that will function as a global model to help alleviate food deserts, enhance STEM education and provide additional revenue streams for the food desert populations. HATponics will deliver a portable wind- and solar-powered hybrid aquaponics farm. It will be outfitted with proprietary IoT programming and sensors staffed by aviation drones for daily tasks. HipScience will fully implement and control an intelligent farming system.

• Grow Computer and Copiana – Grow Computer’s patent-pending IoT ecosystem will provide real-time controls and information about what’s happening inside the container and new ways to analyze grow data. Copiana will serve as the boots-on-the-ground agriculture experts, managing the operation and growth of the plants and produce and working to ensure the highest operational safety and efficiencies are built into the platform.

• MUSCAH, Urban Sprout Farms, and Yogardener – MUSCAH, Urban Sprout Farms and Yogardener have teamed up to bring a conceptual model for the Urban Sprout Farm Manager's AgTech Command Center to the BeltLine for the AgTech Challenge. Equipped top to bottom with the most up-to-date remote sensing technology, the demo site will showcase the ways that urban farming can integrate big data analysis into enhanced food production models with efficient alternative housing and sustainable environmental design focused on community development. Incorporating a triple bottom line perspective emphasizing People, Planet and Profit, the team is working to disrupt the urban farming, alternative housing and environmentally conscious community development from the ground up.

• WUNDERGrubs – This local healthy snack startup will use an insect farm model incorporating IoT technology to harvest insects as a micro-livestock. This will then be manufactured into food products that are healthy and tasty, plus pack a nutritional punch.

• Ponix – Ponix is focused on reclassifying food as a utility – much like water or electricity – by developing solutions for end-to-end local food ecosystems. Ponix will demo its solution for local and transparent food production in Farmbox Foods’ 40 feet controlled environment agriculture (CEA) farm. The farm will grow produce year-round, be controlled and monitored from a web or mobile device through the PonixOS and set a new standard for the way food is produced and distributed in cities.

These startups will implement their innovative solutions in shipping containers along the Atlanta BeltLine to pilot their AgTech technologies and identify scalable solutions to sustainable urban agriculture.

"This initiative is about opportunity and advancement for startups to showcase emerging urban agricultural technologies on the Atlanta BeltLine, which is fast becoming a truly global state,” said City of Atlanta Chief Resilience Officer Amol Naik. “In doing so, we increase our city's ability to provide equitable and innovative solutions to build a resilient local food system, which is a key component of Mayor Bottoms’ vision for One Atlanta."

“We are excited to demonstrate cutting-edge agriculture technologies on the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Clyde Higgs. “We look forward to working with our partners and leveraging the Atlanta BeltLine as a conduit that unites innovators to collaborate on future projects, like this one, making Atlanta a more resilient city for everyone.”

Duluth-based agricultural equipment manufacturer, AGCO will provide the shipping containers, which will be located along the Atlanta Beltline.

“We were pleased with the ingenuity at this year’s pilot IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge, and we wish our final winners a successful 2019 exhibition of their smart farming concepts,” said AGCO Global Fuse Business Development director, Chris Rhodes.

In addition to test space along the Atlanta BeltLine, winning startups will receive mentorship and guidance from the Atlanta civic, corporate and technology community.

“Tech companies are a driving force in Atlanta’s economy, and those Invest Atlanta has worked with have added 14,800 new jobs and $3.9 billion of economic impact to the city since 2016,” said President and CEO of Invest Atlanta Dr. Eloisa Klementich. “Invest Atlanta’s Demonstration Project program helps to further expand the tech sector by allowing entrepreneurs to test and validate their technologies in an actual urban environment with support from their city. We congratulate the IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge winners and look forward to supporting their continued growth in Atlanta’s thriving innovation community.”

To kick off the AgTech pilot, Atlanta Public School (APS) students will paint a mural on the side of the shipping container located along the Atlanta BeltLine at Park Tavern. APS has launched a sketch contest based on the themes of the AgTech Challenge – community engagement, education, inclusion, urban economic development and future farming. Students will paint the chosen mural with donated paint from local organization, Global Paint for Charity, Inc.

“The art programs in Atlanta Public Schools are excited to be a partner on this project,” said Dr. Sara Womack, NBCT. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our students and teachers to design and paint artwork in their own communities on the BeltLine. Additionally, students will gain understanding of the growing problem of food resilience and be a part of the solution.”