New West Genetics first hemp participant in Wells Fargo clean-tech incubator

A hemp genomics company in Fort Collins, Colorado, is getting money for research and development at a facility run by the U.S. Department of Energy.

New West Genetics is the first hemp company selected to participate in the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, a $50 million technology incubator focused on early-stage clean-technology entrepreneurs.

New West Genetics is one of five companies that will receive up to $250,000 and conduct research and development activities at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory west of Denver. NREL co-administers the research.

New West research will also be done at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, an independent research institute in St. Louis.

The incubator program, funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation, is focused this year on making indoor agriculture more sustainable as extreme weather and water shortages threaten the agriculture industry.

Indoor agriculture typically produces more greenhouse gas emissions than field-grown production.

The funded companies “are addressing this problem through innovative technologies,” said Trish Cozart, NREL’s IN2 program manager.

Research will evaluate things like:

  • Fiber-optic and IoT (internet of things) lighting.
  • IoT-based watering systems.
  • Artificial-intelligence-based, automated yield predictions.
  • Genomics-assisted crop variety selection.

“We need to accelerate technology innovation and invest in new ideas to improve food security and sustainability worldwide,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy at Wells Fargo.

New West Genetics recently achieved certified-seed status for four of its newest multi-purpose varieties, bred for high-yield grain, CBD flower and fiber production in the U.S.