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#BIOWC19 Start-Up Stadium Winners Announced

Connor McKoy
Connor McKoy
July 26, 2019

This year marked the first time BIO’s Start-Up Stadium was part of the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Agtech. The Shark Tank-style forum provided innovators across industrial biotech and agtech unparalleled access to key members of the investment community, venture philanthropy groups, strategic partners and non-dilutive capital.

Many of the innovations showcased as part of Start-Up Stadium could be the green solutions to address challenges like climate change and protecting the food supply.

NBC Des Moines: ‘Startup Stadium’ Provides Chance to Lure Worldwide Attention During International Event in Des Moines. Read more.

Of the  30 Start-Up Stadium presentations, four walked away as winners:


Both PowerPollen and BetaHatch focused on innovations in agricultural technologies. PowerPollen pitched their new seed production system, which allows for the ability to provide plants pollen on-demand, 24/7, and reduces the amount of pollen needed to grow hybrid crop varieties. The innovation will allow farmers to have more control over pollination and reduce the costs needed to develop hybrid crops.

BetaHatch on the other hand presented their technology to scale the farming of insects for animal feed. Typically, animal feed is made from crops which have an environmental impact when grown. BetaHatch’s technology would reduce this impact by using insects to convert to feed instead of crops. Using a combination of genetics and technology, the company says their innovation will also reduce high costs associated with insect farming and create a competitive advantage when compared to typical animal feed producers.

The other two winners—Gross-Wen Technologies and Pyran—presented innovations in renewable chemicals and bio-based products.

New limits on the amount of nutrients (think: nitrogen and phosphorus) that can be in wastewater are causing cities and towns across America to reconsider their municipal budgets. Most current local systems are unable to adhere to these new nutrient limits, resulting in multi-million-dollar renovations.

Gross-Wen Technnologies’ algae-based nutrient recovery technology would provide cities and towns an affordable tool to meet these new regulations. Using algae, the company’s treatment system is able to filter out nutrients more efficiently that existing systems while using the resulting algae biomass to generate algae feedstock for possible use in developing bio-based products or to sequester carbon. GWT’s innovation holds potential to reduce wastewater pollution while saving cities money and providing ample feedstocks to develop bio-based products.

In the other winning presentation, Pyran pitched a possible solution to the ever-increasing plastic problem. The company showcased their technology which converts agricultural wastes into key ingredients used to make plastics — key ingredients that are currently developed using non-renewable resources like petroleum. Not only does the company remove environmentally damaging oils from the production process, it claims to be able to do so at a lower cost. Pyran’s innovation could be a game-changer in an industry that is hyper-focused on addressing climate change and pollution.

Each of the four Start-Up Stadium winners received two prizes:



  • BIO Prize: a one-year membership to the organization

  • Investor Prize: a one-hour advisory discussion each with Emerald Technology Ventures and Prairie Crest Capital.


BIO will continue to showcase biotech breakthroughs and help emerging companies gain traction in the investment community through future Start-Up Stadiums at BIO events.