Fresh Field Catalyst

an IFPA Technology Accelerator

Fresh Field Catalyst logo an IFPA Technology Accelerator


Thank you to our
2024 Fresh Field Catalyst SupporterSun World logo

Help feed the future with technology.

What is the Accelerator Program?

The accelerator is a six-month program for companies with technical solutions interested in entering the produce industry.

IFPA evaluates a wide range of innovative, scalable technologies to commercialize climate smart production practices for specialty crops. Technologies should increase productivity in the produce supply chain, help farms and the supply chain adapt to climate change and reduce emissions.

Who Should Apply?

Companies outside the agriculture and produce industry, particularly those in the late stage of trials or with a product already generating revenue. Products should be poised for launch, capable of generating revenue, and scalable within the produce market within a two-year timeframe. The funding stage of the company is not a determining factor, as IFPA does not provide funding take any equity.

Why Participate?

Connect and engage with C-Level members of the produce industry and learn directly how your technology solutions can work best.


Program Timeline:

April 1: Applications Close

April-May: Selection Process

June 2-7: Immersion week in California

August 5-6: Demo Day in Salinas, CA

May-October: Bi-monthly webinars and 1:1 mentorship

Oct. 17-19: Global Produce & Floral Show

Meet the 2024 Participants

Michael CullySusterre
Michael Cully
Ontario, Canada

Michael Cully is a C-Level international business executive with expertise in implementing new business strategies from the ground up for organizations ranging from startups to large multinational companies. He has expertise in global business development, brand strategy, distribution channel development, corporate sustainability, government/public affairs, and corporate development. Michael has had repeated success in building multinational teams, establishing distribution networks across multiple regions, and launching new products, growing businesses profitably worldwide.

Susterre logo

Alexander Gutierrez L5 Automation Inc.
Alexander Gutierrez, Founder and CEO
La Canada Flintridge, CA

Alex is a repeat founder, having co-founded Astrobotic Technology with his advisor and others, which has done over $600M in revenue to date. Directly prior to L5, Alex spent 9 years working at Lockheed Martin where he was responsible for bringing technologies from proof of concept to proof of value. Alex is a certified “Robot Master”, graduating from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics’ Institute, with a focus on autonomous vehicles. 

L5 Automation Inc. logo

Nathan Dorn

Nathan Dorn, VP Sales & Business Development
Watsonville, CA.

Previous roles as CEO of Data Science / Capture company for specialty crops, Food-Origins. Reiter Berry Farms, Director of Knowledge and Innovation. Technical Manager for Gallo Coastal Vineyards and Wineries. USS Omaha SSN 692 Nuclear Machinist Mate. Wheat Custom Harvester and Farm kid from Nebraska. 

Farm-ng logo

Dr. Michael Salvador

Mirai Solar
Dr. Michael Salvador, CEO
San Francisco, CA.

Dr. Michael Salvador has over 15 years of experience in basic research and R&D and a proven track record in developing solar technologies, with emphasis on thin-film, flexible photovoltaics. Previously, he held research positions at top-ranked universities in the USA and Germany, including Caltech, University of Washington, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has contributed to several patents for solar energy devices including those forming the intellectual property of Mirai Solar. Michael has led Mirai Solar from an R&D project into a full-scale startup with manufacturing capabilities and pilot demonstrations. 

Mirai Solar logo

Steve Mantle
Steve Mantle, Founder & CEO
Walla Walla, WA

A distinguished former Microsoft exec, Steve Mantle expertly blends data-driven insights with genuine care for the agricultural community—a testament to his founding of His work focuses on empowering growers through meaningful partnerships, reflecting his commitment to both technological advancement and the human element of innovation. 

Innov 8 ag logo

Janice Gould

Responsive Drip Irrigation, LLC 
Janice Gould, Founder / Owner & CEO
Bradenton, FL, USA, and Abu Dhabi, UAE

Janice’s main focus has been in developing and distributing a disruptive irrigation technology through her company, Responsive Drip Irrigation, LLC (RDI). Her mission has been to increase food production and save water for our children today and for our children’s children and grandchildren. She has become a strong advocate for water conservation and improving water management and sustainability to preserve the environment and create a livable planet.  
 Responsive Drip Irrigation logo

Dr. Timea Ignat

Neolithics LTD.
Dr. Timea Ignat, Chief Scientist
Tel Aviv, Israel

Dr Timea Ignat has a Ph.D. in food science – at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary – on the subject of non-destructive sensor and data fusion to determine agricultural produce quality. She has developed various measurement methods using multiple sensor platforms, chemometric algorithms, machine learning and fusion techniques. She advanced proximal- and remote sensing – including airborne and satellite – in agricultural, environmental and food industry application, in the fields of precision agricultural, post-harvest of agricultural produce and food hazard management. Most recently, she is the chief scientific officer at Neolithics in Israel, where she further advances the development of agricultural produce quality control and food hazard management applications. 
Neolithics logo

Francisco Martin Rayo

Helios Artificial Intelligence, Inc.
Francisco Martin Rayo, CEO
Tysons, VA.

Francisco Martin-Rayo is the CEO and Co-Founder of Helios Artificial Intelligence, the world's leading AI platform that predicts agricultural supply disruptions.  With its unprecedented coverage across 85 countries and 160 commodities, Helios AI helps agricultural buyers worldwide forecast global fruit and vegetable prices and supply availability before their competitors.  

Helios logo


Dr. Agustin Büchert, Cofounder and CSO
Wilmington, DE.

Agustin Büchert is a biotechnology Ph.D. and MBA who serves as the Chief Science Officer and co-founder of ClearLeaf, a company dedicated to developing sustainable, safe, and innovative crop protection solutions. With his scientific expertise, creativity, and multitasking abilities, Agustin has transformed the company into an experimentation hub for product design. His leadership and vision drive ClearLeaf's mission to create cutting-edge solutions that benefit both farmers and the environment.

ClearLeaf logo

Dr. Stephanie Gamez

Agragene Inc.
Dr. Stephanie Gamez, Director of R&D
St. Louis, MO

Dr. Stephanie Gamez currently serves as Agragene’s Director of R&D where she oversees the development of KnockOut™ sterile insects utilizing Precision-Guided Sterile Insect Technique (pgSIT). Dr. Gamez received her PhD in Biology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where her work explored the potential of gene drive technologies to introduce heritable modifications into insect genomes, with applications ranging from disease vector control to agricultural pest management. 

At Agragene, her leadership and work exemplify the transformative impact of genetic innovation on modern agriculture where she continues to drive innovation in sustainable pest management through the advancement of pgSIT technology. 

 Agragene logo

Sarah Placella

Root Applied Sciences
Dr. Sarah Placella, CEO
Oakland, CA.

With an understanding of the challenges facing modern agriculture, Sarah Placella founded Root Applied Sciences with a clear mission—to revolutionize agriculture with near real-time information on unseeable biological threats. Under her leadership, the company has become a trailblazer in developing solutions that optimize resource usage, reduce environmental footprint, and promote the overall resilience of agricultural ecosystems. Beyond her role at Root Applied Sciences, Placella is a respected advocate for sustainable agriculture and is actively involved in technical founder communities as well as advocating for women and mothers as startup leaders.  

Root Applied Sciences logo

Ofir Daube

Ofir Daube, VP Produce & Regulation
Ness Ziona, Israel

Ofir Daube oversees product development and commercialization at Sufresca since its founding, a startup specializing in disruptive natural edible coatings that prolong post-harvest marketability of fresh fruits and vegetables. With extensive regulatory and market expertise in the agri-food industry, and strong focus on sustainability and feasibility, Ofir leads Sufresca's vision of offering highly effective natural solutions for fruit ageing and fungal growth to anyone, anywhere.

Ofir is the past co-founder and CTO of two software startups in the fields of psychophysiology and telecommunication, and an experienced system developer, designer, and analyst. Ofir holds a Master of Science degree in Anthropology and an educational background in law and social sciences.

Sufresca logo

2024 Fresh Field Catalyst Mentors

Pete Donlon, Vice President, Missionero

Matt Hoffman, Plant Health Technology Lead, Driscoll's

Curtis Garner, Founder, CCO, Verdant Robotics

Eric Morgan, VP Environmetal Science & Resource, Braga Fresh

Garland Perkins, Director of Innovation and Sustainability, OPPY

Bryant Woolsey, Senior Director, Walmart Sourcing, WalMart

Marty Craner, CEO/Founder, B&C Sales

Steve Brazeel, Founder/CEO, SunTerra

Mareese Keane, Co-founder, Opengate Partners

Kristen Smith Eshaya, President, JV Smith Companies

Erika Descoust, Wonderful Sales, Regional Sales Manager, NorCal

Dr. Duncan T. Aust, Chief Technology Officer of AgroFresh


2023 Cohort Alumni

Agrology -  Alexandria, VA

Arable – San Francisco, CA

Avo Solutions - Chile

Bloomfield – Pittsburgh, PA

BloomX – Israel

FireFly-One – Texas 

Four Growers – Pittsburgh, PA

Fyteko - Belgium

Gardin – United Kingdom 

Intelligent Growth Solutions –Scotland  

Moleaer – California

Spornado – Toronto, Ontario

2023 Fresh Field Catalyst Mentors

Matt Lingard, VP R&D, Bright Farms

Garland Perkins, Sr Manager Innovation and Sustainability, Oppy

Dorn Wenninger, VP of Produce, UNFI

Jim DiMenna, President, Red Sun Farms

Leonard Batti, VP, Taylor Farms

Raina Nelson, CEO, Westfalia Fruit

Eric Morgan, VP of Environmental Science & Resources, Braga Fresh

Miles Kohl, Chairman of Northwest Hort Association

Dan Kurdys, Director of Horticulture and Seed Growth, Bayer

Dwight Ferguson, CEO, California Agricultural Leadership

Nikki Cossio, CEO, Measure to Improve

Joe Barsi, President, Cal Giant

2022 Cohort Alumni

Provision -  Calgary, Canada 

Routeique Inc – Calgary, Canada 

Nexus Robotics - Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Canada 

Ten Carbon Chemistry Pty Ltd – Melbourne, Australia 

Morphix Technologies – Virginia Beach, United States  

Netled – Prikkala, Finland 

Clarifruit – Rishon Le’zion, Israel  

DiMuto  - Singapore 

The Yield Technology Solutions Pty Ltd – Sydney, Australia 

Vitiport – Bratislava, Slovakia  

SoundAg – Emeryville, United States

CarbonSpaceTech – Dublin, Ireland 

2022 Fresh Field Catalyst Mentors

Gary Wishnatzki, CEO, Wish Farms

Judy Clark, CEO, Fresh From Texas, LLC

Jennifer Petersen, EVP / Chief Science Officer, Sun World International

Andy Hamilton, CEO, Markon

Jan DeLyser, Vice President Marketing at California Avocado Commission

Scott Komar, Senior Vice President of Global R&D, Driscoll’s

Ted Taylor, Head of New Ventures & Business Development at Taylor Farms

Curtis Garner, COO, Co-Founder Verdant Robotics

Max Teplitski, CSO, IFPA

Dorn Wenninger, Sr VP Produce UNFI

Dave Vosburg, Chief Innovation Officer, Local Bounti

Frequently Asked Questions

The program is a unique opportunity for start-ups, scale-ups, and corporations to learn about the produce industry and how to enter this market. The program includes:

  • One week immersion program on the U.S. West Coast (field visits, corporate visits)
  • Bi-weekly virtual meet-ups with industry experts (growers, shippers, IFPA staff) on topics relating to industry statistics, tech success and failure stories, challenges and access to funding
  • Access to IFPA proprietary data and analytics
  • Support to translate technology to agriculture or U.S. market
  • 1-1 mentoring from IFPA members
  • Shared exhibit space with other members of the cohort and introductions to industry leaders at the Global Produce and Floral Show, Anaheim, California, October 19-21.
  • For companies eligible for SBIR funding, IFPA subject matter experts will offer guidance on the application process

The Fresh Fields Catalyst Accelerator is a unique opportunity to connect and engage with relevant members of the fresh produce industry and learn directly from them how technology solutions can work best.

  • You can apply to the program by filling in the application form which closes on 3/20/23. Once received, your application will be reviewed by our team and a selection committee.
  • Shortlisted companies will attend a video conference meeting to discuss their goals and objectives of participation in the program.
  • 10-12 companies will be selected and notified 4/3/23 - 4/10/23 and will be expected to attend the immersion week program in California 5/7/23 -5/12/23.

  • You are committing to a senior team member from your company traveling to the U.S. West Coast for a one-week immersion program, on the week of May 7, 2023.
  • You are committing to a senior team member participating in video conference meetings twice per month for the duration of the six-month program.
  • You are committing to a senior team member participating at the Global Fresh Produce Show in Anaheim, CA on October 19-21, 2023.
  • No fees are required for any of these events but travel costs and associated expenses are the responsibility of the participating company.

No. If you are selected to participate in the Fresh Fields Catalyst Accelerator, you must be in a position to fund your own travel and accommodation for the key events you will be required to attend.

IFPA will assist by arranging blocks of hotel rooms to be available for participants in the program, but participants are expected to cover their own room and board.

Yes, we welcome global applicants that are interested in engaging with the fresh produce industry in the U.S.

Please do not submit any business plans, trade secrets, or “secret sauce.” Your application must include only non-confidential information. All information disclosed to us in your application will be considered non-confidential public information. IFPA will only treat information as confidential if the information is covered by a formal, written confidentiality agreement signed by IFPA prior to disclosure.

IFPA will not invest in any of the companies participating in the company and does not require any commitment of equity. The network and connections from IFPA may open investment opportunities.

Thank you to our Supporters


Vonnie Estes VP, AgFood Tech Innovation

Vonnie Estes

VP, Technology

International Fresh Produce Association


Industry sponsorship opportunities

Peter Wilder

Peter S. Wilder

Sales and Engagement Manager

International Fresh Produce Association


Fresh Field Catalyst

Sponsorship Opportunities

See All Opportunities

Related Resources