We talk a lot about the #RoadtoInventOR around here, but what about the road beyond InventOR? For an inspiring story about what's possible in the months and years after the InventOR competition, meet Nexgarden.
This week, Nexgarden received $74,132 in seed funding from the State of Oregon's Business Oregon department.
The Nexgraden team — Hugh Neri, a sustainability student at Portland State University and Skyler Pearson, a University of Oregon alumna — won the grand price at the first InventOR Collegiate Challenge in 2017 for its next-generation aeroponic vegetable growing system.
Since then, the team has continued to develop and pitch its business, appearing at the Bend Venture Conference and Yield Lab's Agrifood Tech Open in St. Louis. Nexgarden is also testing its second generation modular indoor farm system — think server racks, but for vegetables — in the basement of the Nines Hotel, growing food for the award-winning Urban Farmer restaurant.
Nexgarden's high-efficiency, vertical farming systems are designed to make healthy food accessible in dense urban areas. The promise of the technology caught the attention of Oregon's economic development department, Business Oregon, which awarded Nexgarden the $74,132 grant as part of its Enhanced Phase 0 program.
The program is designed to fill the capital gap for the earliest stages of commercialization for promising science and technologies, getting Nexgarden and other grantees ready for later stage private investment.
Ask any early stage CEO and they'll tell you that access to capital in the earliest stages is key to survival and success. We're extremely proud of the Nexgarden team as they build on what they learned through InventOR and continue to refine their invention for success in the marketplace.