The Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is inviting technology startup companies to make pitches to attendees of the group’s fourth annual conference.

The association expects nearly 300 participants at its Feb. 19-20 conference in Denver, with around 35 exhibitors and more than 40 grower businesses represented, according to the association.

The association hopes to attract startup companies with innovative agricultural technology addressing the current demands and challenges of growers, shippers and fresh food processors, according to its request for proposals from startups.

Qualifying tech solutions can address labor availability, food safety, big data, compliance costs, water scarcity and water quality, according to the document, and the association will select up to four companies to participate in its Produce Innovation Pitch.

James Pritchett, executive associate dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University, will moderate the session, with assistance from Robert Sakata, president of the Colorado association.

Two awards are up for grabs, a Panelists’ Favorite and an Audience Favorite; in the event that the panelists and audience members choose the same company, that startup will win a Pitch Favorite award with a Runner Up given to another company, according to the release.

Full details on proposal and presentation guidelines as well award details are available on the association website. Proposals are due Dec. 20.

The Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has a collaborative relationship with Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, which had a similar “AgSharks” tech pitch event at its annual conference in November.

Western Growers runs the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Calif., which provides space and support for startup companies working on innovative tech solutions for the produce industry.

 
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