Preliminary Agenda – Subject to Change
If you are interested in speaking and sponsorship opportunities, please contact us.
Monday, May 14, 2018
4:00 PM —
Registration will take place at the Skyway Ballroom on the top floor of the Peabody Hotel. Event staff will be prepared to check-in attendees and answer any questions.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Breakfast in the Skyway Ballroom
An Alternate Reality: It is 2035 and All Your Assumptions are Wrong
Generation Z runs the world. CRISPR is cool. The farm is profitable, Agricultural production is perfect. Land doesn’t matter. Ethanol is dead. Rubber is made from dandelions. Silk is produced from corn. Food is plentiful. Textile production in the U.S. is a booming business, and all our children are above average. How did we get here?
Carter Williams – CEO, iSelect Fund
Dystopia or Plenty?: Feeding an Insatiable World
In 1968 Paul Ehrlich predicted worldwide famine. It did not happen. Just like “peak oil,” the hyperbolic fears of running out of food never happen. Technology fills the void. For a moment, fast forward to 2035 and look back: How did we meet increased demand for food? Was it indoor farming, which offers 5.7x the yield for tomatoes, 12.7x the yield for leafy greens, and uses up to 97% less water? Did we get proteins from crickets instead of beef? Was it delivered in a daily drink? Did we develop crops with perfect yield? Increased production? Less waste? Global warming freeing expanding farmland? Increased production from 3rd world countries? Who wins, who loses in the race to feed our growing world? How does your company, farm or business thrive?
Craig Herron – VP Ventures, iSelect Fund
Consumer First: Gen Z Takes Control
Millenials are particular about their food. Fearful of GMOs. Fearful of chemicals. This momentary fear of BigCo in control has slowed progress, as rapid progress in yield in the 80s and 90s have led to stalemate over technology in 2018. But emerging markets and Gen Z are changing all that. Gen Z is embracing CRISPR. They are biohacking. Liberated from privacy and fanatical for data, Gen Z studies the source of food like one might talk about a fine wine. They innovate.
The transition to Gen Z control is starting now, first with the integration of Tinder and 23andMe — swipe right for a genetically compatible partner — but it is only a matter of time before Silicon Valley integrates blockchain, Amazon Basic, and Fitbit to personalize food to the individual’s Xome and Microbiome. Perfect traceability of every ingredient. Perfect adherence to fair trade standards. An integration of food, health, and social justice.
It’s 2018, can you see it coming?
Hyper Local Data: Meet Your Burger
It’s 2035 and the business model in ag is pretty routine. With hyper-specific data and radically streamlined supply chains, the farmer can now match crop, supply, and production near perfectly with the demands of a range of consumers. Search by whatever meta variable meets your fancy: Organic, Free-from, Healthy, Nutritionally Available, Antibiotic-free, Cage-free, Free Range, Sustainable, non-GMO, Traceable, “Single Cow” Burgers.
Think about it. It is no longer a McDonald’s hamburger. It is not an Angus beef burger. It is not even an Amazon burger. It is a Bessie burger. She’s where it came from. And, the customer is demanding the data to make that decision. Do brands exist as we know them today? What will consumers think of next? What does this mean for me? How do I keep up? What technology will lead the evolution?
Video wall showcase of startups
Convergence of Ag and Health
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Am I healthy because I eat well, or do I eat well because I am healthy? Has a diet high in refined sugars produced diabetes and Alzheimer’s? Can we inject wellness into new crops — like hemp that’s milled into wheat that is high in protein and low on the glycemic index — and fit these crops into the existing ingredients supply? More fresh foods, rich with nutrients, with fewer cancer-causing chemicals. Can food buy wellness?
Dr. Sally Rockey – Executive Director, Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
Roger Beachy – Washington University in St. Louis, Professor of Biology
Chaeyoung Shin – Co-founder & CEO, Sugarlogix
David Yocom – Associate, iSelect Fund
AgTech Disruption: Corporation Killer or New Opportunity? Part 1
Wang, Polaroid, Kodak. AOL, Yahoo, GE. So many brands that dominated in previous generations are no longer here, and the consolidation isn’t over yet. The legacy, monolithic industry structure begs for disruption. Are the ag giants next? If consumers rule demand, what happens to purveyors of commodities, like ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus? Do they consolidate into one entity or pivot like IBM or AT&T did in the 80s?
Disruption increases the size of the pie: more becomes available and dominant players are forced to adapt or die. The status quo has been set by Monsanto and others, but how will they fend as the world as they know it may change faster than they are able to?
Well change is coming, and coming fast: Benson Hill’s Matt Crisp and Indigo’s Dave Perry both started innovating in agtech before anyone knew the term. They created their own markets, and they’re still leading them today.
It’s no wonder that CB Insights recently named these companies two of 2018’s leading venture-backed startups in Synthetic Agriculture. Neither company got there by waiting for the market to invite them in. Once they’re in the market? Who knows what innovation will unfold.
In Part 1 of this panel discussion, David Perry of Indigo Agriculture and Matt Crisp of Benson Hill Biosystems will speak individually of their company’s respective work, its implications for food and agriculture going forward, and how the powers that be will respond.
The next presentation will start while lunch is served. During the break the video wall will showcase startups challenging incumbents.
AgTech Disruption: Corporation Killer or New Opportunity? Part 2
In Part 2 of this panel discussion, David Perry of Indigo Agriculture and Matt Crisp of Benson Hill Biosystems come together to speak about how their companies are changing and reshaping big ag, where their visions align, differ and how these two future giants of food & agriculture will share the global stage.
Charles Mully Gives Back
Six-year-old Charles Mulli wakes up in his Kenyan hut to discover his parents have abandoned him. Forced to beg from hut to hut in search of food, Charles scrapes out a meager existence while trying to come to terms with his abusive past. Then, in a dramatic turn of events, Charles experiences unprecedented success. He finds a wonderful wife, raises a family, excels in business to such a degree that he creates an empire that is noticed by the President of Kenya, and he becomes a pinnacle in the church movement. Charles is on top of the world.
And then his world changes. In spite of his tremendous achievements, the plight of the growing street children problem in his country remains strong in Charles’ heart. He is unable to shut out their cries, the cries he understands so well, and he realizes he must respond.
A story of a man who makes a decision to sell everything he has to help the poor. It’s a decision that goes so counterintuitive to those around him that he is soon completely ostracized, forcing him to carry out what seems like an impossible and unexplainable mission. Now, armed only with his relationship with God, Charles and his family struggle on physical, financial and spiritual fronts to rescue street children from the slums of Kenya and provide them with the hope of new life. Learn more about Charles and the Mully Children’s Family
Charles Mully – CEO, Mully Children’s Family
The End of U.S. Agricultural Exports
In 2017 the American farmer outproduced the world. But by 2035, who will deliver the world’s food? Is food supply an issue of National Security? Is agriculture a means of GDP growth?
Technology is fluid. Pakistan was first to adopt 3G wireless, because there was no installed base to compete. If CRISPR gives us crops that can grow in nearly any environment, then why transport food around the world? Innovation flows to the point of least resistance. Entrepreneurs will seek early adopters. Might increased demand for food be solved by performance gains in Vietnam, Kenya, or China? Millennials in Europe and the US fear GMOs; hungry people in China may not. Is the big opportunity for gene editing in India? Are biologics more likely to be adopted in China? Will Africa be using bioreactors?
The Future of Trading, Finance and Distribution
The world of finance has always been driven by data, but in 2018 the agricultural world is fairly opaque and data is proprietary. By 2035, data is free-flowing and open source, enabling optimization and limiting volatility. The advent of the perfect farm has extended into the perfect supply chain. There is little uncertainty around yield. Farmers get paid when they plant, not when they harvest. Input suppliers get paid upon delivery; there is no need for credit. Hedging instruments go away. Do exports exist at all?
Startup Round Robin
During this time, 16 Davos on the Delta Startups will be presenting 15-minute pitches to investors, customers and other interested parties in two separate rooms (Galaxie & Barclay, 3rd Floor of the Peabody Hotel). Schedules for presentations in each room will be posted prior to the event and included in event materials. All are encouraged to attend and support.
Cocktail Party: Peabody Terrace
After a long day of networking and contemplating the future of food and agriculture, it’s time for some rest and relaxation, and while your traditional wine and spirits will be available, there are adventurous options for those so inclined. The cocktail dinner sponsors, Mangalitsa, Tractor Soda, Nativis, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will all present slightly different offerings. Mangalitsa will be serving the “Kobe Beef of Pork” in both finger food and drink forms. Tractor Soda will be providing their signature organic, non-GMO soda products. Nativis will be demonstrating their breakthrough sound-based therapeutics technology, but with a fun twist. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be presenting on their phenomenal work with researching and treating childhood cancer and will be accepting donations and offering tours of their Memphis facility for Thursday morning. Finally, we will hear a word from Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam (recorded) and the Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture to Tennessee. There will be a great crowd and something for everyone.
Andy Daniels – Founder & CEO, Daniels Trading
Chris Andersen – President, Mangalitsa: American Pure Bred
David Matteson – Investor Relations & Education, Nativis
Travis Potter – Founder, Tractor Soda Co.
Victoria Celano – Regional Developent, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
As tension emerges between David and Goliath, might a simpler answer be that David and Goliath collaborate to accelerate innovation. Increasing profits by offering better product, tailored to customer needs. Using data to optimize production, in a perfect balance of quality, value, and sustainability.
The Perfect Farm: Planning and Production
Farms are systems. They are a collection of variables operating in varying degrees of dependence with each other, where inputs come in and depending on variables in those inputs and the makeup of the system, certain outputs come out. So how can we optimize these systems? When we think about the farm, environmental factors, management practices, technology, the soil microbiome, water availability, soil type, fertilizer choices and crop types are just a few factors that influence productivity and yield. Which of these is most impactful and in which situations? Which factors are most variable in the environment? If we think about the farm as a system, and truly come to understand how all these factors engage in the open environment, could we create the perfect farm?
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the right design can certainly lead to improvements. Multi-variable optimization, including soil conditions, seed varieties, water, fertilizer, other inputs, and lighting, can lead to significant increases in yield. Automotive, Aerospace, Electronics and many industries have perfected production. Six Sigma brought on nearly perfect quality. With more data, sensors, and analytics, the farm in 2035 runs perfectly and on time. No waste. Meeting every need of the consumer perfectly and profitably.
Todd Mockler – Principal Investigator, The Danforth Plant Science Center
Mister Gadget and the Farm
In 2035, the farmer is a knowledge worker. Gone are the days of migrant labor and harsh conditions. Robots do the manual labor. At night, Roomba-like devices wander the field killing weeds. Fertilizer is precisely placed. At harvest, automated carts gather grain. While 2035 seems a long way off, the technology exists today.
Video wall showcase of startups
The Mystery of the Microbiome
By 2035, there are no more chemical input companies. Growth stimulation, disease suppression, nitrogen fixation, pest control, and nutrient enhancement are just a few of the things we know that the organisms in the microbiome are able to do. The soil microbiome is the incredibly diverse and varied collection of microorganisms that live in, occupy and regulate soil environments. The role of each is relatively unknown, and new discoveries are being made every day. If we can do so many things naturally, why would we ever need to do them with chemicals again?
But, the microbiome is just that – a biome – a large, naturally occurring community. So, what does that mean? There are some companies going after single bugs. Others use a collection of microorganisms. Is there a correct approach?
The Rise of Synthetic Biology
Forget buying your burger from Bessie. What about a petri dish? That is already a reality in 2018, as Memphis Meats is growing meat in a lab from animal cells. Only time will tell what the consumer thinks of a lab-grown chicken breast. But cows and fish don’t care, do they?
What about growing their food in a bioreactor? Calysta already is. What other products can be produced using synthetic biology? How about collagen? It’s the multi-billion dollar animal byproduct that goes into everything, but you know nothing about. How about cotton with the strength of spider silk? Tagatose, Allose, and Allulose — natural, low glycemic index, pre- and probiotic sugars with the taste profile of sucrose? How about human milk oligosaccharides — beneficial sugars, naturally occurring in breast milk that are an emerging area of interest for the human microbiome. How about wine, created on a molecular level, not from grapes? What can we grow next?
The next presentation will start while lunch is served. During the break the video wall will showcase startups challenging incumbents.
One hectare of land yields one metric ton of soy protein, a common livestock feed, every year. The same amount of land can produce 150 tons of insect protein. Which do chickens prefer? Protein can be produced using bacteria in a bioreactor. The process uses less water, consumes carbon as an input and can be located basically anywhere the protein is needed. And its nutritional content can be customized.
In 2035, is this where we get our aquaculture and livestock feed? What about pea or hemp protein? They are near perfect proteins that can be grown in lots of places. What does that mean for corn and soy? What does that mean for land use?
No Land Required: The Rise of Indoor Farming
Many said only leafy greens, lettuce, tomatoes and maybe strawberries would home up in the greenhouses, vertical farms and container farms of 2018. But the increased concentrations of humans in urban areas, the reduced costs of LED lighting, advancement in farm robotics, growth optimization that can only happen in a controlled environment, and demand for clean, sustainable food have driven the efficiency of indoor farming to exist at a massive scale.
Indoor grown food is fresher, more nutritious, more sustainable and more local than ever before. You can even grow it in your own home. Imagine a Keurig for plants. But what of the wake left behind in the aftermath? How will we make use of lands that are left unused for farming, and where will the indoor farming revolution fall short?
Ethanol is Dead: The Rise of Industrial Crops
When the ethanol market finally collapsed in 2035, politicians had no idea what to do. Where was their lobby?
But the transition was much more subtle and took a lot longer to take hold. With the rise of alternate proteins, one by one farmers transitioned away corn and soy to high value contracted crops. Hyper customized textiles require short supply chains. Consumers worried about source materials forced Patagonia to vertically integrate. In an effort to streamline supply chains, textile mills replaced silos, feeding directly into regional clothing production facilities. What about dandelions? They are a domestic source of natural rubber. What about indigo? It is a sustainable source of “denim” dye.
The future is unlikely to lie in just corn, soy, and wheat.
How Does Goliath Survive?
It’s 2035. Who won? Who Lost? Does Monsanto become BetaMax or the iPhone?
Innovation is a competition between the incumbents that control distribution, but seek innovation, and the innovators that seek distribution, but control innovation. The market is a cage match where incumbent and new entrant fight it out.
But on their flank, innovators come unexpectedly. They creep up. They approach quietly. Then BAM — a Kodak moment. Or a Blockbuster Video moment. It is just a matter of time.
Startup Round Robin
During this time, Davos on the Delta Startups will be presenting 15-minute pitches to investors, customers and other interested parties in two separate rooms (Galaxie & Barclay, 3rd Floor of the Peabody Hotel). Schedules for presentations in each room will be posted prior to the event and included in event materials. All are encouraged to attend and support.
The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is a four-day event taking place alongside Davos on the Delta in downtown Memphis with the Mississippi River as the backdrop. More than 230 teams come from over 25 states and several foreign countries to participate in America’s most prestigious barbecue competition.
The first night of the Barbecue, we will host dinner for all Davos attendees in a private tent. This setting is perhaps the most important element to the unique nature of this conference. It provides a private opportunity to build key relationships within the industry that will form the foundation of trust needed to accelerate AgTech innovation.
Dinner will start at 5:30 pm. The tent will be open well into the evening. Attendees often end up migrating to Beale Street late into the evening, enjoying the unique qualities of Memphis and the live music scene it offers.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The landscape of agriculture is changing: the old 100-year-old storm has become the 5-year storm, tractors are driving themselves, corn seed is suddenly freezer-proof, and we can make glow in the dark pigs! As these changes occur, those who wish to stay ahead of the curve must respond swiftly to the diversification of technologies, production methods, and participation.
Join us for a closing breakfast and panel led by Allison Kopf (Agrilyst), Connie Bowen (The Yield Lab Institute), Renee Vassillos (AgThentic), and others where we’ll summarize many of the themes addressed at Davos on the Delta, while looking forward to new horizons. To register, visit the registration page, click tickets, and select the Thursday Morning Breakfast option.
After a night of great food, and perhaps a late evening (morning) on Beale Street, Thursday is available for longer private meetings with startups or more strategic conversations with iSelect and other AgTech investors. Several companies will be hosting board meetings.