Purdue Startups Score Funding

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Hydro Grow Founder Scott Massey stands in front of his prototype. (photo courtesy Hydro Grow LLC) Hydro Grow Founder Scott Massey stands in front of his prototype. (photo courtesy Hydro Grow LLC)

Two agricultural startups at Purdue University have received funding from the Purdue Ag-celerator. The plant sciences innovation fund operated by Purdue Ventures has awarded a total of $100,000 to Phicrobe LLC and Hydro Grow LLC.

Phicrobe, which Purdue says is commercializing a new method to rapidly detect E. coli in food and food product environments, has been awarded $75,000. Bruce Applegate, founder of Phicrobe and associate professor of food science at Purdue, says the funding will allow his company to expedite the commercialization of their technology by moving it through the necessary approval process and certifications.

The remainder of the funding was awarded to Hydro Grow, which is developing a refrigerator-sized automated device that allows consumers to grow their own vegetables at home. The appliance uses "bots," or seed cups similar to coffee pods to grow the vegetables. 

"The funds the company has received will be used to continue the development of this next-generation model," said Scott Massey, founder of Hydro Grow and a senior at Purdue Polytechnic Institute. "The Ag-celerator and the Purdue Foundry have given the company an opportunity to acquire funding for continuous product development, provided valuable feedback, given unprecedented exposure and, most importantly, introduced us to industry leaders."

Hydro Grow won the Schurz Innovation Challenge at Purdue in December. 

The Ag-celerator aims to provide support for Purdue innovators involved in plant sciences, such as research in crop optimization, hybrid and seed development and precision agriculture. The $2 million fund is supported through the Purdue Moves initiative.

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