The Greater Sacramento Economic Council Welcomes Ag Innovation

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
By: Kelly O’Halloran

On March 22, 2018, the CoLaborator officially opened in our West Sacramento, California facility. This event brought together ag innovation enthusiasts from many different industries including universities, government, venture capital, media, and science. During this time, I spoke with four participants on the importance of collaboration and innovation in agriculture, which led to this blog series.


Cynthia Carrillo was my last guest for the day. She is a Regional Director of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council. While it’s clear to see how the start-ups and local universities will benefit from the CoLaborator, I wanted to understand how the city as a whole is going to take advantage of the opportunities it brings.


Cynthia Carrillo


How is the launch of the CoLaborator space align with the goals you and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council have for the city?


Cynthia: I work to find companies and strategic partnerships that are looking to expand in our area and understand how they could bring innovation and investments into Sacramento. We’ve held a very friendly relationship with Bayer, specifically surrounding the CoLaborator because we’re very interested in building an agriculture-innovation hub in the community.


Innovation already exists naturally, but we have to build a brand to elevate it and attract all of the activity in the Bay Area and beyond. The opening of the CoLaborator is the perfect opportunity for that. When we talked to the Bayer team and saw synergy, we worked together to bring some companies home like Biome Makers.


Now we’re announcing the partnership to keep doing this and bringing small companies to the CoLaborator as a landing pad. We work to find them the space and funding they need, connect them to the resources, and keep them here. It really takes work from so many groups to make this happen, and a lot of expertise.


Why is there such a big focus on agriculture around Sacramento?


Cynthia: We think that we are both geographically and economically blessed for agriculture. Geographically, the soil can produce more than 200 specialty crops, especially great grapes. We’re also only 90 minutes away from the Silicon Valley, so the entire venture capital ecosystem is right in our backyard.


Economically, we’re both cost effective and connected to talent and opportunity for the ag industry. Right now, about 23,000 people are moving out of the Bay Area and into Sacramento every year. We’re positioned to get all of this talent and we want to take advantage of that. If you’re a company working in protein, or on a crop science piece, or even on a way to fertilize crops to control irrigation, you need to be somewhere you’re able to create partnerships. These partners will support the innovation by providing field tests, R&D and tech transfers. Start-ups need to find a corporation that will back them and champion what they’re doing, and Bayer is championing all of those areas.”


Thanks for following along with this blog series! Search #CoLaborator to keep up with the West Sacramento space and the innovations taking place. We’re excited for the future of ag!


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