During my recent three month stint in Silicon Valley, I met a number of key innovation and investment players in the region’s AgTech ecosystem. One of the most impressive was SVG Partners. Based in Los Gatos, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with founder & CEO, John Hartnett.

There was no mistaking John’s Irish heritage. He is a leading member of ITLG, a non-profit organization comprised of high-level global technology leaders who are Irish or Irish-American. ITLG’s office is co-located at SVG Partners Los Gatos address. This heritage has clearly influenced SVG Partners growth and extensive networks. Both are significant. What I liked most about SVG Partners however was their approach to AgTech.

Whilst I was in the Valley, they were in the process of closing a US$100M fund. SVG though is more though than just an investment house. They also sponsor the Thrive Accelerator which is based in Salinas, North America’s Salad Bowl, about an hour’s drive south of Silicon Valley. The Thrive Accelerator is a highly selective mentorship, and investment program for technology-enabled startups in the Precision Agriculture space. Ten startup companies are selected to gather and connect in the Salinas area for mentorship, collaboration, and direct access to the top fresh agriculture companies in the world.

Salinas Valley - The Salad Bowl of the US

Salinas Valley – The Salad Bowl of the North America

John and his team demonstrated a keen passion for the entrepreneurs on this Program. And it went well beyond the investment metric. John had co-founded an organisation called the Steinbeck Innovation Center. With offices in Salinas, support for the companies participating in the Thrive Accelerator Program came from the Steinbeck Innovation Center’s vast global network of mentors from Silicon Valley and the Salinas Valley — an amazing collection of entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators.

And there is more. The Program has also established a very close partnership with Western Growers. Their membership is a who’s who of large US-based Ag producers: Dole, Chiquita, Manns, Taylor Farms, Rocket Farms and JVSmith. These companies provide access to industry executives, key decision makers, and mentors to help the entrepreneurs participating in the Program create the future of Agriculture and build great companies of their own. They also provide additional support to the Accelerator participants with access to facilities, visibility, and proactive engagement around business opportunities that emerge from this Program.

It was pretty much the complete end to end solution. A highly focused AgTech Accelerator Program, working directly with both relevant industry and investment players. It’s a model that works.

I have posted blogs before about the significance of the Corporate Partner Program for the different vertical accelerator programs run by the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale. Western Growers play a similar role in Salinas. It is compelling for both start-ups and investors. The start-ups get to access mentoring and other resources from key industry players in their space. This in turn supports funding since investors understand the significance of this support. In the case of the Thrive Accelerator Program, when a startup’s solution is deployed in one of the leading Ag companies, an investment of up to US$ 5m can follow.

What SVG Partners have successfully built in Salinas is a 360 degree ecosystem which combines entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and industry partners. The Program attracts applicants from around the world keen to connect and engage. The results show why.

You can find out more about SVG Partners from their website.