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AgTech Insights: A Look Into Beef Industry Start-Ups

Within the past year, there have been impressive movements happening in AgTech. Focusing on the beef sector, companies in every part of the value chain are diving into the processes of the industry to improve current beef production. Six companies were researched for this article to share the impact the companies strive to make in the beef industry and how it can impact the entire value chain.

The beef value chain stretches from cow-calf producers to grocery stores, and the whole beef industry is vast. Technology is being developed for every sector of the industry.

Ag Value Chain
This graphic from Burlington Capital's AG-VENTURE shows the vast distribution in agriculture. All sectors are dependent on the other.

In an effort to research and talk to some of the most impressive start-ups across the industry, different competitions, news sources, and programs were researched.

The Beef Alliance Start-up Challenge was one of the competitions researched. It was an opportunity for start-ups in the beef industry to compete for a $50,000 grand prize and the chance to receive feedback from leading experts in the industry. More than thirty start-ups from across the globe applied, and ten finalists were chosen. The ten companies selected as finalists are as follows:

Resilient Biotics was selected as the winner of the Start-up Challenge, and we had the opportunity to talk to Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Christopher Belnap, Ph.D. Resilient Biotics is utilizing big data analytics to design microbiome-based therapeutics and advanced screening methods for the prevention and precision treatment of deadly infectious diseases.

Resilient Biotics is studying microbial activity in the respiratory tract to find a more effective way to prevent respiratory infections in cattle. Their main focus is on the feedlot industry since that is typically the point when cattle are co-mingled and respiratory infections are most prevalent. The company has made impressive progress and has finished the research and development phase, built a database and isolated strains for three years, and now developed a product that is being tested on cattle.

Dr. Belnap said that he was most excited about applying this therapeutic approach more broadly for different animals and other types of diseases. Since they have already built a platform that can easily test for different species and diseases, this makes a substantial opportunity for growth.

Another start-up that will revolutionize the beef industry is Corral Technologies. Corral is a start-up focused on creating virtual fencing solutions for cattle producers to encourage them to utilize more intensive rotational grazing practices. This impacts the producer's bottom line by cutting fencing costs, labor costs, and fully utilizing each parcel of pasture for an improved return. The team is also developing solutions to move cattle remotely, so ranchers will not have to physically move the cattle when transitioning grazing parcels. This technology will impact the cow-calf producers and backgrounding operations mainly.

Rex Animal Health focuses on enabling producers to have animal health data at their fingertips. The platform creates simple intuitive data visualization and predictive analytic tools, so producers can see:

  • Disease Tracking

  • Disease Forecasting

  • Clinical Decision Support

  • Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance

  • Drug Efficacy & Outcomes

  • Breeding & Performance Support

The platform also has custom genomic solutions for producers to view data like genetic modeling and assess disease threats. The app is versatile for multiple species, but it can be a beneficial tool for sectors like cow-calf, backgrounding, and finishing operations.

BlockTrust Network is another disruptor in the beef industry that participated in the Beef Alliance Start-up Challenge. BlockTrust is a livestock supply chain transparency platform. The company is providing transparency throughout the whole supply chain within the beef industry. Using blockchain technology to track an animal from birth to consumption, the data will be useful to cattle producers to raise better performing cattle and make data available for the whole supply chain.

The team said they are most excited for BlockTrust's platform to be leveraged by cow-calf producers who deserve to know how their cattle are performing after they leave the cow-calf sector.

FarmAfield is an up-and-coming start-up that allows outside investors to invest in livestock. The company connects investors and producers, allowing an outside investor to buy a pen of feedlot cattle. Historically, agricultural investments like cattle have only been accessible to investors with significant capital, vast industry expertise, and direct connections to producers. FarmAfield has removed those barriers by:

  • Cultivating partnerships with high-performing farmers we trust

  • Leveraging technology to bundle smaller purchases into larger investments

  • Compiling, analyzing, and sharing industry data that drive higher returns

Since their first offering in March of 2016, FarmAfield's investments in partner farms have yielded an average return of 6.8%. The company plans to move into the solar space and the cow-calf sector soon.

A start-up in the Meat Processing Industry worth noting is Marble Technologies. Dependence on manual labor in the meatpacking industry creates a vulnerability in the supply chain. There is increased employee turnover, injuries due to repetitive motions, and increased labor shortages. The team at Marble is on a mission to automate meat fabrication tasks.

"Marble’s robotic solutions reduce the labor needs of beef and pork processing facilities and improve workplace safety by conducting tasks with a history of worker injury. Marble’s engineers are often on the fabrication floor with facility managers and facility engineers to ensure the technology meets their needs and fits within their constraints."

From raising genetically superior cattle in the cow-calf sector to increasing efficiency and reliability in meat processing, these start-ups across the industry are making waves to improve every process in beef production.

The Combine supports AgTech businesses in the heartland of agriculture - Nebraska. Nebraska is the leader in production agriculture. Ranked first across the nation in beef product exports, commercial red meat production, Great Northern bean production & popcorn production. Nebraska's leadership in production agriculture is a competitive edge for businesses. The state's low cost of living and strong connectivity to industry decision-makers makes for a strong place to build a business.

Looking to build an AgTech Business? Consider Nebraska. Consider The Combine.


About The Combine:

Invest Nebraska’s Combine Incubator is a statewide initiative focused on supporting high-growth agri-food entrepreneurs through mentoring, commercialization support, physical incubation space on Nebraska's Innovation Campus, and a network of supporting farmers and ranchers across the state. Invest Nebraska is a private, non-profit statewide venture development organization focused on high-growth companies in Nebraska and growing the state’s entrepreneurial economy. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers, and companies to help commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses, and access needed capital.


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