By Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Farm Bureau member Dr. Chris Cornelison and his colleagues at MycoLogic LLC won the People’s Choice Award in the Agriculture Innovation Challenge during the annual American Farm Bureau convention in January.
MycoLogic co-founders Cornelison and Dr. Kyle Gabriel have developed technology to help farmers more efficiently grow specialty mushrooms - like Shiitake, Oyster and Lion’s Mane – in larger quantities and of better quality. The company’s proprietary software can be used in 40-foot shipping containers or existing infrastructure.
The startup, which originated in the BioInnovation Laboratory at Kennesaw State University, received a $5,000 prize for being voted the People's Choice Award. This award resulted from receiving the most votes in an online poll featuring the Top 10 ag-based startup companies in the contest. MycoLogic received $10,000 as one of nine semi-finalists in the contest and $5,000 for being a final four competitor.
Cornelison says this technology increases the profitability of existing farms and helps new growers enter the market by providing a ready-to-use solution for increasing the size and frequency of harvests while reducing labor costs.
“The sales of specialty mushrooms have increased by 50% in the past five years and most of the specialty mushrooms consumed in the U.S. are grown overseas,” Cornelison said. “Our software can help people successfully grow mushrooms anywhere in the U.S.,”
Luc Lalire is responsible for MycoLogic’s business development. Will Beeson manages mushroom cultivation and operations.
The Ag Innovation Challenge, organized by AFBF and sponsored by Farm Credit, gives individuals a chance to showcase their ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the ninth year of the challenge, which focuses on entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses that will help farmers or rural residents. Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank and Farm Bureau Financial Services also support the contest.
In the final four round of the competition, MycoLogic competed against teams from Iowa - Chop Local - an online store that facilitates direct sales of meat between producers or local butchers and consumers; Texas - EmGenisys Inc. - a company that developed software to help beef and dairy producers evaluate the health/viability of embryos before implanting into brood cows to increase calving success and genetics goals; and Kansas - NORDEF - a company that developed technology and machinery to allow farmers/large equipment operators to mix diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) onsite in the quantity that they need by using a pod of urea and mixing it with water.
NORDEF won the competion to receive a total of $50,000 in prize money. EmGenisys Inc. was named runner-up in the contest and received a total of $20,000.
Applications are being accepted until May 12 for the 2024 Ag Innovation Challenge. Learn more at www.fb.org/challenge.
AFBF will award $165,000 in startup funds to 10 businesses, culminating at a live pitch competition and networking event at the AFBF Convention in January 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Ag Innovation Challenge Winner will be awarded $50,000 in startup funds provided by challenge sponsors.
Dr. Chris Cornelison, pictured, & his colleagues at MycoLogic LLC are working to help farmers meet the growing demand for mushrooms. / Photo courtesy of KSU