Program Helps Farmers Commercialize Farm Inventions

Jamie Johansen

Incubator Client - GrassRoots Energy copyOttawa County, MI announced the official kick-off of the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator.

The Incubator, a non-profit corporation, will specialize in helping farmers and entrepreneurs turn their ag-tech machine, equipment, or software ideas and inventions into successful businesses. “Most farmers are intuitive, can-do individuals who have innate abilities to solve farm problems with ingenious mechanical inventions,” said Mark Knudsen, Planning and Performance Improvement Director. “These inventions can often be the foundation for a thriving business.”

The Incubator provides specialized assistance designed to propel start-up companies through business hurdles. These services include, but are not limited to, validating concepts, obtaining patents, developing markets, streamlining regulatory permits, developing financial plans, assembling management teams, obtaining business financing, and developing supplier sustainability plans. In addition, farmers associated with the Incubator share their expertise with entrepreneurs to validate their ag-tech ideas, provide recommendations to improve new products, and field test prototypes. Ottawa County is uniquely poised to test technology involving wireless broadband since it has built out high-speed wireless broadband throughout the County.

State Representative Joe Haveman also announced at the Grand Opening that the State has awarded $500,000 to support the innovative Ag-Tech Business Incubator. “Ottawa County has built something entirely unique for farmers and entrepreneurs,” said Representative Haveman. “I am pleased to announce that the State will make a three year, $500,000 investment in this first of its kind incubator model to help develop businesses and jobs in the ag-technology sector.”

The state funding commitment will be in addition to funds that have been pledged by private sector sponsors and Member Counties.