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DEED Announces First Virtual Pitch Event Winners
Minnesota Ag Connection - 07/31/2020

The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced four winners in its first virtual pitch competition, held in partnership with SelectUSA on June 30. Competitors in the pitch event consisted of international companies utilizing innovative technology incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in solving real world problems in the agricultural technology (AgTech) and clean technology (CleanTech) sectors.

The four winners were selected by an impartial panel of industry experts following a virtual pitch from each of the seven finalists from four different countries. This virtual pitch event is the first of two events planned for this summer and was organized by DEED's Minnesota Trade Office (MTO).

"These pitch events are designed to help innovative foreign-owned businesses establish themselves in the U.S. and get a better sense of all the Minnesota business ecosystem has to offer," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. "The competition creates opportunities for foreign companies to learn about our state and for key opinion leaders and experienced entrepreneurs in Minnesota to meet and mentor these companies."

"We intended to do this as a face-to-face event, but the pandemic gave us an opportunity to create something new," said Minnesota Trade Office Executive Director Gabrielle Gerbaud.

"We are excited to see how this program has grown over the course of a few months and how it can continue to grow in the years ahead."

Originally planned as an in-person event, the virtual pitch competition had entries from 17 agricultural technology and clean technology businesses located in six countries, from which the seven finalists were selected. The four winners will receive introductions to various Minnesota programs designed to help startups. They also got valuable feedback from competition judges.

The AgTech and CleanTech Virtual Pitch Competition winners are listed below:

- First place: EcoPlant, based in Israel, pitched an AI-powered production monitoring system that would reduce energy waste and CO2 emissions in industrial production sites.

- Second place (tied): Animal Industry Data Korea, based in South Korea, pitched AI-based system to monitor real time animal health data and customize animal health care to reduce disease and increase productivity

- Second place (tied): SwipeGuide, based in The Netherlands, leverages AI to provide access to critical operational instructions to help workers access the information they need immediately from anywhere

- Third place: Aura Air, based in Israel, uses AI to monitor air quality, utilize systems to clean and disinfect air to improve indoor air quality.

Judges for the AgTech and CleanTech Virtual Pitch event came from a cross section of industry, entrepreneurs, academics, investors, and government and included DEED Commissioner Steve Grove, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Andrea Vaubel, TechStars Farm to Fork Executive Director Brett Brohl, President Obama's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, entrepreneur and investor Shefali Mehta, and Clean Energy Economy Minnesota Executive Director Gregg Mast.

The second virtual pitch competition event on August 17 will feature pitches from international companies with medical technology (MedTech) for therapeutic applications.

DEED is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development.

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