WOODLAND – With a thriving food and agricultural economy valued at more than $12 billion, the Greater Sacramento region elevated its capabilities as a global leader in Ag, Food and Health innovation with the launch of operations at The Lab@AgStart this week. The Lab@Agstart includes the Yocha Dehe Lab and the Raley’s Food Lab, which will provide a place for entrepreneurs and innovators to cultivate Ag, Food and Health innovation from concept to commercialization. The Downtown Woodland facility is the only lab of its kind in Northern California to include a shared wet lab, food lab and co-working space.
The Lab@AgStart represents a unique public-private partnership that came together to fund the $1.5 million wet and food innovation lab space, creating a shared-use incubator for innovators and entrepreneurs in the Ag, Food and Health industries. The 4,800 square foot space in Woodland was made possible through support from multiple public and private organizations, including the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the State of California’s iBank, the County of Yolo and the City of Woodland, as well as private support and sponsorships from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Raley’s, First Northern Bank, Bayer, Syngenta and many others.
The Yocha Dehe Lab is one of only four wet labs in the region focused on supporting startup companies. The Bio-Safety Level 1 facility will address the immense demand for wet lab space for start-ups by adding 2,500 sq.ft. of wet chemistry laboratory space and capacity for 28 dedicated laboratory benches.
The Raley’s Food Lab is a certified food facility where innovators can develop new food products, ingredients, and recipes for taste testing, sampling and small-volume sales. The facility is fully outfitted with kitchen and food preparation equipment and will be reservable for use by established and aspiring food entrepreneurs. It is the only food lab of its kind in Northern California, making it ideal for food entrepreneurs to experiment and test new foods and food ingredients in a region renowned for its vibrant agriculture and food innovation ecosystem.
The facility will also provide co-working space for lab users and other entrepreneurs to conduct meetings, phone or video conferences, as well as a place to convene over a coffee in the break area, in order to build a community of creative collaborations among fellow entrepreneurs. The conference room was named the First Northern Bank Board Room to recognize the financial institution’s contributions to the space.
The Lab@AgStart is located at 1100 Main Street in Downtown Woodland, Yolo County – the heart of one of California’s centers for specialty crop production and processing. Woodland is home to over 180 food and ag businesses and is a short drive from University of California, Davis (UC Davis), one of the top global academic institutions in agtech, foodtech and food-for-health innovation. UC Davis received $941 million in external research funding in 2019-20 to support critical work ranging from new online platforms to climate change to the study of grapevine red blotch disease. The college of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alone received an increase of $29 million from the previous year.
The Lab@AgStart is a key initiative of Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy and the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy – a strategic framework and bridge to action for the six-county Sacramento Region that prioritizes core economic initiatives including the ability to leverage key clusters, research institutions and innovation in order to create a more inclusive economy.
To learn more, visit www.agstart.org.
On Behalf of The Lab@Agstart
“We are thankful to our sponsors, our partners, and our board members, and all who have helped us deliver on our vision to elevate our region as an innovation hub for Ag, Food, and Health,” said President and Board chair for the AgTech Innovation Alliance John Selep.
“At long last, the region has a showcase wet lab incubator for ag and food-related startups,” said CEO and Founder of Chestnut Bio Advisors and AgStart Board Member Pam Marrone, PhD. “The AgStart Board is excited to be part of one of the leading organizations driving the momentum to foster economic and employment impact.”
“This unique facility will offer entrepreneurial companies commercializing Ag, Food, and Health technology innovations access to complete facilities for PCR analysis, protein extraction, cell and tissue culture, and plant-based, biological, or microbial product formulation,” said Lab@Agstart Lab Manager Le Vuong. “In addition, this facility will provide a secure and stimulating collegial environment for companies to further refine their ideas and intellectual property.”
“Our First Northern Bank Board Room will enable our member companies to conduct professional meetings and briefings for their investors, customers, and partners,” said Lab@AgStart Facility Administrator Leanna Sweha.
On Behalf of Raley’s Family of Fine Stores
“The Raley’s Food Lab provides an ideal location for food entrepreneurs to experiment and test new foods and food ingredients in a region renowned for its vibrant agriculture and food innovation ecosystem,” said Chelsea Minor, Raley’s Corporate Director, Public Affairs. “Raley’s is eager to partner with food entrepreneurs to bring their products to our shelves and the community.”
On Behalf of the County of Yolo
“The County of Yolo and City of Woodland’s collaboration on this innovative lab is at the forefront of a new economic development strategy aimed toward promoting Yolo County and Woodland as a leader in the development of life sciences and agriculture. Through collaboration and cooperation we’re charting a new course for the region." - Supervisor Gary Sandy
On Behalf of the City of Woodland
“The City of Woodland is home to over 180 food and ag businesses and more than 150 years of rich agricultural history,” said Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard. “The Lab @ AgStart represents our City’s commitment to growing the next generation of food, ag, health, and bio innovators right here in Yolo County.”
On Behalf of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
“This land is both our past and our future, and we can’t wait to see what comes next,” stated the Tribal Council of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “That’s why we’re proud to contribute significant funding for this project through our Doyuti T’uhkama partnership. The Lab@AgStart will be all about creating what comes next.”
AgStart is a startup incubator with a mission to accelerate Ag, Food and Health innovation in our western region. Its nearly 4,800 square foot Lab@AgStart incubator in Downtown Woodland houses the Yocha Dehe Lab and the Raley's Food Lab. In addition to space, AgStart offers education, mentoring, and connections to collaborators, customers and investors.
AgStart has helped hundreds of innovators and startups since opening its doors nine years ago and is part of the region’s thriving innovation ecosystem. Its network-centric model offers education, mentorship, and connections, providing access to the resources that new companies need to thrive.
AgStart is a non-profit and is supported through membership fees and the generous support of corporate and other sponsors. The Lab@AgStart is located at 1100 Main Street, Suite 300, Woodland, California.
Learn more at www.agstart.org.