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Nebraska Startups Succeed in Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge

Three Nebraska startups were named in the top ten finalists in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Ag Innovation Challenge.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced finalists of the Ag Innovation Challenge on Oct. 5, 2021. Three of the ten finalists are Nebraska-based startups, all of whom are part of The Combine Incubator program based in Lincoln. The finalists include Grain Weevil in Aurora, Birds Eye Robotics in Herman, and Marble Technologies in Lincoln. Nebraska Farm Bureau is proud to be a statewide sponsor of The Combine Incubator program, a program heavily involved in developing the next generation of agriculture technology in Nebraska.

American Farm Bureau’s Ag Innovation Challenge identifies top entrepreneurs who are addressing both traditional challenges farmers and ranchers face on their operation, such as access to labor, optimizing yield and reducing operating costs, to entrepreneurs who are addressing new challenges facing farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

“We are excited to see more interests coming from Nebraska-based startup businesses. Agriculture is the largest driver of our state’s economy, generating one out of every four Nebraska jobs. Nebraska Farm Bureau is happy to support these entrepreneurs in their effort to solve the challenges farmers and ranchers face on their operations,” said Audrey Schipporeit, director of generational engagement, Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Here is a brief background on each of the Nebraska-based start-up finalists.

Grain Weevil is an agricultural robotic company. A company spokesman said, "We are very excited to be selected as a semi-finalist for the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. It is an honor to be recognized by an organization that has such a large influence on our industry. Nebraska should be proud of our ag innovation culture; three out of the ten national semi-finalists are robotics companies that call Nebraska home. We look forward to competing in Atlanta and representing Nebraska Farm Bureau members."

Birds Eye is an agricultural robotic company with a cutting-edge robot that is designed to assist in the daily care of poultry barns. The company is founded by Scott Niewohner, who is a serial inventor and entrepreneur with deep experience combining existing technologies into novel new uses for adjacent industries.

Marble Technologies aims to resolve vulnerabilities in the food supply chain, stabilize markets for farmers, ranchers, and consumers, and make food industries more sustainable. "The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge showcases U.S. startups developing innovative solutions that address challenges facing America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Using the latest advances in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and sensing technology, Marble automates tasks in food processing, beginning with the difficult tasks in meat processing,” said Britany Wondercheck, director of business development at Marble Technologies. “Marble is honored to be a finalist in the Ag Innovation Challenge and excited to pitch at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention."

The American Farm Bureau will award $165,000 to ten businesses after the pitch competition at their annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia January 7-12, 2022. The grand prize winner will receive $50,000 in startup funds.


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