Valley Ventures program helps ag business entrepreneurs

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In a field at Fresno State, Jared Criscuolo checks on his product, Native Soil, which is now being sold at select Target stores.

"We've made one that includes carbon organic matter, carbohydrates, and amino acids, as well as a slow release nitrogen in a variety of micro-nutrients and secondary nutrients. So what we're looking at is really improving soil health and try to get our customers to a point where they are using less fertilizer over time," says Criscuolo, the owner of Upcycle & Co.

The San Diego resident was one of the businesses in Fresno State's Valley Ventures program at the Water Energy and Technology Center.

The WET Center, Center for Irrigation Technology and Jordan College of Ag have teamed up to link industry professionals to budding entrepreneurs.

"Coming to the Valley Ventures program helped us to expand our network into commercial grow operations and into commercial landscaping, but then adding scientific validation at the Center for Irrigation Technology," Criscuolo says.

That knowledge helped him develop his product, as his investors linked Native Soil to Target.

The Valley Ventures program is about a three-month program with about seven to ten businesses.

"Basically from all over the world. They really see the Central Valley as a hot spot for ag technology per the industries we have here. We have companies from Brazil and Chile from Europe that really want to get into the American market and the Central Valley is a great place for them to start," said Helle Petersen, WET Center Assistant Director.

These ideas will hopefully impact the Valley and create jobs here.

A new class of Valley Ventures will start in September.

Industry leaders and investors will work with the entrepreneurs around the world virtually and help them get their product and technology to the market.
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