Challenge Grant Application
2023-2024

The Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp is shaping the future of agriculture in Kentucky. We are building an innovation ecosystem for farmers, entrepreneurs and investors by expanding economic opportunities to ag-tech entrepreneurs and startups.

Our Challenge Grant program is designed to attract ag-tech businesses to the commonwealth by offering incentive funding and valuable resources to help them develop and market their technologies to investors and customers. The program will help advance technologies, products or services that have great potential to impact food and agriculture in Kentucky and beyond.

Fill out the form below to learn how to apply for funding

A full application will be sent to the email listed on the form below.

Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp Challenge Grant Program

FAQ/Program at a Glance

The Challenge Grant Program is Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp’s inaugural initiative that provides grant funding and resource assistance to foster agriculture and food innovation in Kentucky.
Each applicant may apply for up to $100,000 of grant funding, and up to $750,000 of total funding is available for grants in the first year of the program. Selected grant recipients will also be offered resource support, such as mentorship, referrals to professional services, connections to local growers and research teams, and other business development assistance.
Applicants must be able to provide matching contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis for their proposed project. Matching contributions may be provided in the form of cash and/or the in-kind application of salary or wages attributable exclusively to the project.

Applications will open on November 15, 2023, and all finished applications and supporting materials must be submitted by March 1, 2024. A panel of judges will then review all applications and select finalists who may be asked to provide supplemental information such as financial statements, records, and projections. Selected grant recipients will be announced no later than [TBD].

The program is open to registered, for-profit businesses currently located in or willing to establish a presence in Kentucky, with an emphasis on startups and early-stage businesses. A portion of the program’s funding is allocated specifically for businesses in Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky. For full eligibility information, please see Terms of Use at https://bluegrassagtech.org/apply/.

Applicants must address a critical challenge that has the potential to improve the profitability, sustainability, and/or resiliency of Kentucky’s agricultural and food economy. Proposed projects must align with at least one of the following 5 Challenge Focus Areas:

  • Solutions for Mid-Size Farming – Small or mid-sized agricultural operations in Kentucky could benefit from new tools and advancements that are developed for their scale of operations. This could also include projects that improve access to markets for smaller producers and processors.

  • Sustainable Food Systems – Kentucky’s existing agtech and food economy make it primed to be both resilient to supply chain disruptions and to meet increasing consumer demand for sustainably produced local foods. This could include projects that improve the sustainability, production, processing, or distribution of high-quality products for local markets.

  • Food is Health – There is a need to promote better nutritional and health outcomes through healthy foods as well as to develop new opportunities for farmers to contribute to pharmaceuticals and functional food ingredients. This could include products and offerings that improve health outcomes for consumers and could ultimately provide for strong collaboration with the healthcare sector, particularly in rural communities.

  • Future-Proof Animal Protein – Protein production and supply chains must align with consumer preferences to bring continued value to producers. This could include unique approaches to supporting and improving product differentiation, efficiency, sustainability, or welfare to ensure the future of animal protein production in Kentucky.

  • Kentucky Traditions – Kentucky’s global leadership position in the distilled spirits and equine industries is often recognized, along with our diverse crop and livestock production sectors. This may include projects that grow and support these traditional sectors, specifically with consideration to their impact on farms and agribusinesses. Additionally, many nationally and globally known food brands reside within Kentucky and could benefit from advances in supply chain management and technologies for retailing and restaurants.

Applicants will be judged on a number of criteria including but not limited to:

  • Relevance to and potential to impact the Challenge Focus Areas
  • Viability of commercialization and business model
  • Growth and job creation potential
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Partners

Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp is an initiative of these Kentucky civic, educational and business leaders:

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KY-Dept-of-Ag
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UK-CAFE
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KY-Dept-of-Ag
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