Two companies win $250K Radicle Inclusion Challenge
Two companies walked away from the first day of the 2022 International Borlaug Dialogue with new financial investments after winning The Radicle Inclusion Challenge by Nutrien.
The pitch competition is aimed at uplifting historically disadvantaged groups by providing investments in early-stage companies with goals of implementing diversity and inclusion and sustainability with the food system.
More than 130 applicants from 40 countries entered the competition, and four finalists were selected to present their pitches at the Borlaug Dialogue. Four finalists - Agtools CEO Martha Montoya, FA Bio CEO Angela de Manzanos Guinot, Re-Nuble CEO Tinia Pina and Root Applied Sciences CEO Sarah Placella - presented their pitches to judges on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Two companies, FA Bio and Agtools, won a US$250,000 investment each and will be granted access to Radicle’s company-building platform that can be used to accelerate their growth.
Throughout the event, the hosts and panelists emphasized efforts to improve diversity and inclusion within agriculture.
“We did not have enough diverse talent in our pools to even say we could meet our goals, so we partnered with two Delaware universities,” said Kathleen Shelton, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of FMC Corporation. “What we found is that when we work closely with students and inspire them, they are thrilled to work with us.”
Moreover, the panelists described some of the challenges that accompany their careers, offering advice for overcoming the hurdles historically oppressed groups face within agriculture. They noted that although these challenges can be frustrating, it is important that they stay engaged in the goal to feed the world.
While the judges deliberated, a second panel addressed diversity and inclusion on the ground. Panelists discussed various barriers to inclusion, which may vary by country and cultural contexts.
Speakers also delved into the differences in opportunities between men and women within agriculture and the sociocultural nuances that may limit opportunities for women within the field.
“When you are in India, it is only men gathered around tea,” said Usha Barwale Zehr, Director and Chief Technology Officer at Mahyco Private Limited. “Women have no opportunity to have social engagement. When men are gathered around tea, they discuss what crop is doing well, what pesticide they are using.”
To remedy these inequalities, the panelists offered the solutions of education, transportation and communication to bridge gender inequalities.
Grace Pender is a student at Drake University studying Law, Politics, and Society, History, and Rhetoric, Media, and Social Change. She is currently a Communications and Public Relations George Washington Carver intern at the World Food Prize Foundation.