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FarrPro wins Canadian Pork Innovation Award

Iowa City-based agtech startup FarrPro has won the Dr. F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production with its Haven product.

The award was presented at the 2020 Banff Pork Seminar to FarrPro’s CEO and co-founder, Amos Petersen.

“The Aherne Prize recognizes individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology,” said Willing, in an announcement. “There is no better place to celebrate industry innovation than the Banff Pork Seminar and we are pleased to acknowledge grassroots inventiveness in the pork industry.”

FarrPro’s Haven is a heat and light supplementation platform for use in farrowing crates that creates draft free microclimates for two neighboring litters. Its design delivers heat energy to piglets and promotes healthy creep behavior while reducing pre-wean mortality and energy use.

“In Iowa we understand the importance of supplemental heat for newborn pigs and recognize that our friends to the north have many of the same environmental challenges we have here,” said Chris Hanson, co-founder of FarrPro. “We are thrilled that the prize committee recognized our Haven as being an innovative solution to an age-old problem in the industry. As we look to expand sales outside of the U.S. the most logical place to go considering climate, proximity, and large number of farrowing operations, is Canada.”

The Aherne prize is the first international award, and third award overall, for the Haven, having been selected as the National Hog Farmer’s 2019 New Product Tour “Producer’s Choice” award winner and as one of National Hog Farmer’s Top New Products in 2019.

FarrPro currently has Haven units in over 300 commercial farrowing crates in three Midwest states and is now taking orders for new units to be delivered in late February.

Previous coverage

Middle Bit: FarrPro wins National Hog Farmer Producer’s Choice Award -July 12, 2019

FarrPro successfully wraps up seed investment round -June 29, 2018

FarrPro wins Canadian Pork Innovation Award | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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