Ag Tech Investments News
Grant from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for the Texas Tech University Innovation Hub
Creating opportunities for the future of Lubbock and West Texas is at the top of the priority list for the Texas Tech University Innovation Hub at Research Park.
For the next several years, the federal government will lend a hand in that directive, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Administration's (EDA) 2018 Regional Innovation Strategies program competition.
The Innovation Hub was notified in December that it has received a $300,000 grant to assist with the creation of an AgTech Fund called Hub Fuel, which will focus on the ecosystem in West Texas, including elements such as biotechnology, plant and animal breeding, water and environment technologies, big data analytics, and others. The local fund match for the initial stages of Hub Fuel is $349,146. Texas Tech was the only entity in the state to receive a grant among the 17 that were given.
"Texas Tech is an unquestioned leader in innovation, and the Hub Fuel Project will pave the way for new technologies for our farmers and ranchers while also creating jobs and attracting development opportunities to West Texas," U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington said.
"I am absolutely thrilled for my alma mater as it launches this project in conjunction with the Department of Commerce's Regional Innovation Strategies grant, and I know that it will not only add to our local economy but also increase our region's stake in AgTech."
Forbes.com writer Erik Kobayashi-Solomon describes AgTech as the "application of technology – especially software and hardware technology – to the field of farming. AgTech is an industry that encompasses diverse solutions to almost every step in the food production process."
The goal of Texas Tech's Hub Fuel initiative is to fund early-stage startups that are commercializing technology, resulting in new business and job creation in a region where much of the state's farmland and agriculture business need innovation to support the state's growing economy. This project will undertake a five-step process to establish the Hub Fuel fund at Texas Tech University, including fund management, fundraising, marketing and sustainability modeling. Over three years, Hub Fuel anticipates funding 25-35 AgTech ventures, supporting more than 300 direct jobs. "What we're doing is trying to build innovation and entrepreneurship support in our community by encouraging investors to fund good ideas, and this project establishes the support for funding," said Kimberly Gramm, senior managing director of the Innovation Hub. "There are no venture funds in West Texas. This is the first of its kind. It has a chance to be transformative because it brings capital to these AgTech ventures and will allow them to hire people who stay in our community and create job opportunities and products that support West Texas."
Hub Fuel is a $2 million to $10 million fund. The fund is a resource for early-stage startups that are commercializing technology, resulting in new business and job creation in a region where much of the state's farmland and agriculture business need innovation to support the state's growing economy.