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Startups can begin applying to join Plug and Play’s Innovation Campus.

P.J. Griekspoor, Editor

August 12, 2020

4 Min Read
Capital building in Topeka
TOPEKA PROJECT ADVANCES: Cargill has become the first founding corporate partner in the Plug and Play Animal Health and Ag Technology accelerator program in Topeka.Courtesy of Go Topeka

Global innovation platform and accelerator Plug and Play is wasting no time populating its latest innovation center in Topeka, announcing that Cargill will be a founding partner for establishing its first accelerator program focused on animal health and agriculture technology.

Cargill will work with Plug and Play to help startups that are creating new technologies and products to build successful food and agriculture businesses that will cement Topeka as a prime location in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation for Greater Topeka Partnership, says three or four additional founding partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

She adds that startups can now apply to join the accelerator program. She says a team is being formed that will evaluate applications and select 20 or 30 potential startups, which will make their presentations to corporate partners.

From those pitches, this selection committee will choose about 10 startups to participate in the accelerator program. They expect that program to launch in September. At the current time, all presentations are being made virtually. Moving forward, Plug and Play and the corporate partners will add between eight and 10 new startups every six months.

"We are thrilled to welcome Cargill as the first founding member of the Topeka Animal Health and Agtech focused innovation platform. Cargill has made significant investments in innovation throughout Kansas over the last decade and we are proud to collaborate with this organization and help shape the future of agriculture for our State,” she says.

"Cargill is partnering with Plug and Play to bring together some of the brightest minds and boldest ideas in agriculture and protein production," says Rob Stewart, president of growth ventures and emerging markets in Cargill's North America protein business. "Together we will leverage our unique expertise to help new companies across the food supply chain identify market opportunities, attract customers and accelerate growth."

Plug and Play's global reach will help startups enter new geographic locations, find new customers and grow. Cargill will bring scale, a broad expertise and the strength of a global supply chain to help those startups succeed.

"Plug and Play is incredibly excited to launch this program in partnership with Cargill as our first founding partner. Their support and dedication will lay the foundation for entrepreneurs and startups to access the best resources available, beginning with industries such as Animal Health and Agtech," says Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO of Plug and Play.

There are no geographic restrictions on who can apply. Bridges says the goal is to match startups with resources that can help them use the three-month accelerator program to scale their technology. The accelerator will provide mentorship, resources and office space. There is a 70% average success rate for companies that go through a Plug and Play accelerator program, measured in follow-on capital raised.

“Our goal is to see at least one or two of each cohort of startups become established in Topeka, but we will also work with partner communities in the Animal Health Corridor if Topeka initially cannot meet all their needs,” Bridges says. “Some of them will do pilot programs with the corporate partner, with the goal to have either a supplier-customer relationship or to attract investments from the corporate partners or venture funds.

“Some could even be an acquisition target for the corporate partner. The idea is to create wins for everybody.”

 "Topeka proudly welcomes Cargill as the first founding partner of the Plug and Play Platform,” says Michelle de La Isla, mayor of Topeka. “This investment is a vital step; it will propel our community forward as we work to become a hub for Animal Science and Agtech research. 

“I am grateful to our partners in GOTopeka for making this possible and am excited to watch a new generation of startups and entrepreneurs find their success in our great city.”

Plug and Play's proven innovation platform will create substantial economic impact for the entire region," says Bridges.

Corporations and startups interested in Plug and Play's Animal Health and Agtech program in Topeka can apply online.

Plug and Play is a global innovation platform headquartered in Silicon Valley. Since its inception in 2006, the platform’s programs have expanded worldwide to include a presence in over 30 locations globally, giving startups the necessary resources to succeed in Silicon Valley and beyond. With over 30,000 startups and 400 official corporate partners, Plug and Play has created the ultimate startup ecosystem in many industries.

Cargill, which has headquarters in Minnesota, has 155,000 employees across 70 countries. Its protein division has headquarters in Wichita, with about 1,000 employees located there. It also has a beef packing plant in Dodge City and has grain handling operations, soybean crushing and flour milling interest across the state.

This article contains information supplied by Plug and Play.

About the Author(s)

P.J. Griekspoor

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Phyllis Jacobs "P.J." Griekspoor, editor of Kansas Farmer, joined Farm Progress in 2008 after 18 years with the Wichita Eagle as a metro editor, page designer, copy desk chief and reporter, covering agriculture and agribusiness, oil and gas, biofuels and the bioeconomy, transportation, small business, military affairs, weather, and general aviation.

She came to Wichita in 1990 from Fayetteville, N.C., where she was copy desk chief of the Fayetteville Observer for three years. She also worked at the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. (1980-87), the Mankato Free Press in Mankato, Minn. (1972-80) and the Kirksville Daily Express in Kirksville, Mo. (1966-70).

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