SWIIM, a water accounting system with its on-farm grower dashboard, was the judge’s top pick at the Second Annual Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association’s (CFVGA) Tech Pitch. The competition, which featured four of the best applicants from a field of highly qualified companies, was the culminating event Feb. 26 at CFVGA’s Fifth Annual Conference, attended by some 300 growers, allied industries and other produce enthusiasts. Coming in first by audience vote was GeoVisual, a production forecasting technology aimed at helping farmers know how much produce they have in each field. Both companies are Colorado-based.
“It was a privilege to pitch SWIIM – our ag water accounting services, at the CFVGA conference and an honor to be chosen by the judges,” said Kevin France, SWIIM’s CEO. “Water availability is one of the top concerns of growers as it relates to the sustainability of their operations over the coming decade. This point resonated with the audience and judges alike – there is no substitute for one’s water allocation, and competing interests have a target on agriculture’s back.”
Also participating in the Tech Pitch were two additional finalists: Visugen, a Denver. Colorado, company that has created early detection, on-site water monitoring to comply with FDA regulations; and ToMarket, an app that brings together chefs and local food producers.
Both winners receive annual memberships from both CFVGA and Western Growers as well as exposure through the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology and full entrepreneur memberships from Rockies Venture Club valued at $2859 each. In addition, SWIIM receives legal services in the amount of $3,000 and GeoVisual in the amount of $2,000 from PSL Law Group, Boulder, Colorado.
“We were very excited to have so much interest in our tech pitch and to have two Colorado-based companies win,” said Robert Sakata, Sakata Farms, Brighton, Colo., who serves as CFVGA president. “The pitch is a good opportunity for growers to have input into emerging agricultural technology and to know what innovations are being developed.”
Jeffrey Orrey, founder and chief science officer, GeoVisual said: “I was impressed with the focus of the conference and the active engagement of Colorado growers. We have been concentrated on California and Arizona given the relative size of the markets for the crops we have been monitoring, but we are now enthused to turn to our home state and engage with growers here. Based on feedback we received after the pitch and throughout the conference, we’ll be following up with local growers to explore some trials in Colorado.”
Emceeing the tech pitch were James Pritchett, executive associate dean, Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Judges included Dave Puglia, Western Growers; Jeni Lamb Rogers, PSL Law Group; Denny Ostuga, Rockies Venture Club; David Magana, Rabobank; Reid Fishering, Mountain Quality Marketing LLC; and Wade Yoder, Colorado FFA president.
The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.