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Ag-Celerator fund invests $200,000 in two agriculture startup companies

Insignum AgTech and Verility Inc., two companies founded by Purdue University alumni, have received $100,000 each from the Purdue Ag-Celerator, an agriculture innovation fund.

Insignum AgTech creates plants that warn growers of an early-stage infection so that crops can be protected. Founder and CEO Kyle Mohler said the plants turn purple before a pathogen can be identified, providing growers with information to fight disease.

A leaf with purple spots to the left, and to the right a phone with an application that shows a magnify glass with a sperm figure inside. Insignum AgTech creates plants (shown at left) that warn growers of an early-stage infection by turning purple, and Verility Inc. predicts livestock ovulation phase and assesses sperm quality at the point of care (shown at right). The companies received $200,000 from the Purdue Ag-Celerator, an agriculture innovation fund. (Photos provided.)

"Investment from Ag-Celerator is a wonderful validation of our progress over the past few years and trust in our trajectory," Mohler said. "We at Insignum are excited that Purdue Foundry is joining our seed round, which will propel our product development in corn and allow us to begin developing technology for additional crops."

Verility Inc. is a global animal health platform providing fertility analysis products. Co-founder and CEO Liane Hart said the products enable livestock producers and breeders to accelerate reproductive performance through accurate, simple, cost-effective analysis by predicting ovulation phase and assessing sperm quality at the point of care.

"The $100,000 from Ag-Celerator will allow us to finalize our proof-of-concept ovulation studies scheduled throughout the first half of 2022," Hart said. "It is an honor to be selected for this award not only as the CEO of Verility, but also as a Purdue alumna. We appreciate the esteemed panel of judges' recognition of the significant and successful results that we have accomplished throughout our startup journey. This opportunity definitely allows us to push forward farther faster, creating more value for our company."

Ag-Celerator, created in 2015, is a $2 million innovation fund designed to provide critical startup support for Purdue innovators who bring Purdue patented intellectual property or Purdue "know-how" technologies to market.

The fund is operated by the Purdue Foundry, with assistance from the Purdue College of Agriculture, the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and the agricultural industry.

"The College of Agriculture is dedicated to building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among students, faculty, staff and alumni," said Bernie Engel, senior associate dean of research and graduate education. "Pitching to Ag-Celerator provides a tremendous opportunity as well as inspiration for these groups, and being awarded these generous grants takes the awardees that much closer to achieving their envisioned impact."

Riley Gibb, director of business development for Purdue Foundry, said, "There are many high-quality entrepreneurs bringing Purdue-related startups to market. These companies, including the recipients of Ag-Celerator investments, are already making an impact in plant sciences and animals sciences."

In August, Ag-Celerator eligibility was opened to startups in all agricultural fields. Previous recipients of Ag-Celerator investments are AkanoCure Pharmaceuticals Inc., Heliponix, JUA Technologies International LLC, Karyosoft LLC, Krishi LLC, LeafSpec AgTech, Ongenia LLC, Phicrobe LLC, Progeny Drone Inc., Rogo Ag LLC, VinSense LLC and ZeaVaxx.

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