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In this Issue: | WET Member Highlight: Waterfind | In the News | Team Member Highlight: Elizabeth Hamlin | Upcoming Events & Webinars | Funding & Other Opportunities | Did You Know?
GroGuru, Valley Ventures alumni, launched new technology in 2018!

2018 was a busy year for Valley Ventures Alumni GroGuru. The company raised investment funds, continued to sell their product, and brought a CEO on board. This was all great news for a business venture that started with an innovative idea: to help farmers answer when to irrigate and how much to irrigate in order to help them increase the crop yield and quality and reduce resource costs by using high tech soil sensors that provide real-time access to field data via mobile devices.
Even with all of this happening in the past 12 months, GroGuru has plans to be even busier in 2019. Their latest AgTech breakthrough technology is an all-wireless soil monitoring system that enables permanent installation of soil sensors even for crops where current sensors have to be removed to enable operations such as harvesting and tilling.

GroGuru’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Farooq Anjum, shared with us some of the key things that have made this rapid success possible including several connections and events at Fresno State.

According to Anjum, the Valley Ventures Cohort provided great benefits including direct connections to customers, as well as a variety of speakers and representatives of the water, energy, and Ag industries.

"I came to one of the events, a Water Cluster meeting,” Anjum said “and met Bill Green from the Center for Irrigation Technology. “ The relationship with Green and the GroGuru team helped them come up with soil sensors that are more cost-efficient.

Attendees at events sponsored by the Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) Center and Valley Ventures allowed Anjum to expose the GroGuru technology to many additional people. 

“Thanks to all the support from Valley Ventures, Fresno State and CIT,” Anjum, said. “Until recently, it was just me out there, trying to interest investors and sign up customers and I appreciate all the help that I received from all of you.”

To learn more about GroGuru and their revolutionary technology, please visit:

  WET Member Highlight: Waterfind  

Waterfind, an Australian-born company founded in the early 1980s, provides an online innovative electronic integrated water market system that enables farmers and government agencies to purchase, sell, and lease water rights. Today, Waterfind has launched efforts in California to assist farmers, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and Irrigation Districts with water trading. Mitch Partovi, Director of Water Stakeholder Engagement, talks about how the Valley Ventures Accelerator and BlueTechValley helped Waterfind boldly develop into the business it is today!

“BTV has been instrumental in assisting us with marketing and business development endeavors,” Partovi said. "Whether it’s pitching our company at the “Seeds of the Future” event, collecting Bulldog Bucks at the Central Valley Innovation Entrepreneurship Forum, or networking with like-minded organizations, BTV has continuously provided us with opportunities to engage with the water community and grow/improve as an organization.”

Partovi said that Valley Ventures is a school of business in itself and helped Waterfind focus on their product mindset. Through coaching from Benjamin Francis, Program Coordinator for Valley Ventures, and assistance from other staff members, Waterfind has made significant progress towards raising capital, conducting market research, and sales. “We are currently working with the California Water Institute to demonstrate the purchase and sale of groundwater at the Water Market Exchange Symposium on January 24,” Partovi said.

Partovi praised the work at Valley Ventures and BlueTechValley saying: “The entire BTV/Valley Ventures Staff – especially Thomas Esqueda, Helle Peterson, Jeff Macon, Laura Ramos, Courtney Meinhold, Grace Manly, and Benjamin Francis – and their interns have played an integral role in the development and expansion of Waterfind in California.”

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  In the News

California State University Fresno, Foundation awarded seed fund support grant How a quirky habit helped this founder raise $200M in venture capital Sun and agricultural waste can control pests, experiments show

Fresno State’s Water, Energy and Technology Center will use a $300,000 U.S. Department of Commerce grant to develop an investment fund geared towards injecting seed capital into emerging startups in the Central Valley Region that are developing innovative new AgTech products. The project team will actively encourage investment in the region by cultivating, organizing, and training potential and existing investors.

Click here to read more.

Pam Marrone, CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, capitalized on her background in bugs when she launched (and grew!) the company that now boasts $18-million in annual sales. Her quirky habit? She wears her industry, in- jewelry.

Click here to read more.

Research from UC Davis, shows encouraging results that “biosolarization,” a process that combines the sun’s heat with soil amendments to manage weeds and other soil-borne pests, can prove to be effective in pest management, making farming more productive, profitable and environmentally friendly. 

Click here to read more.

 Why trade shows still produce meaningful results


Trade shows can develop partnerships and strategic alliances that may be difficult to do without the environment and the possibility of meeting in person. Lead generation, sales, return on investment, networking, and industry recognition are all valuable reasons to participate in trade shows.

Click here to read more.

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  Team Member Highlight: Elizabeth Hamlin  
  Elizabeth SBDC

Elizabeth Hamlin is Associate Senior Consultant at California State University, Bakersfield's Small Business Development Center, one of the BlueTechValley Cluster Hubs. Since joining CSUB in November 2017, she has been assisting Intern Dania Martinez with BTV programs as well as managing CSUB SBDC and BTV events. 

“I make sure that we are representing BlueTechValley and our promotional activities and incorporating the programs that we have,” Hamlin said. “I am new to the BlueTech family, and I’m excited to really focus on that.”

Hamlin’s hometown is Bakersfield, California. She graduated from California State University, Bakersfield with a bachelors in business administration with a concentration in agricultural business. She is currently in the online MBA program at CSUB.


“I studied agriculture because I really like food and agricultural farming and so being here and learning more about all the reaches we have, I see a lot of ties to people I went to school with and who work in small ag companies who are doing innovations in irrigation,” Hamlin said. “I like that I can see a lot of ties between what I studied and where I am now.”

One of the things she loves but also finds the most challenging about her work at BlueTechValley is that every day is a new challenge.

“It’s a very dynamic environment and we’re always trying to figure out how to connect everything we’re doing, and do it effectively, efficiently, quickly...” Hamlin said. “I like working with our interns and doing the events because there are so many moving pieces and parts and we all get to play a part.”

One of Hamlin’s favorite hobbies is gardening, and her favorite quote is “Life’s a garden, dig it.”

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   BlueTechValley & Partners Upcoming Events & Webinars



Cleantech Meetup Sacramento
January 24, 2019 
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Cleantech Meetup is a technology-focused monthly gathering that features presentations about products and technologies from companies that are already in operation! This Meetup focuses on solar energy.

Click here to RSVP.

Start Up Monterey Bay
January 25 - 27, 2019

Each January CSUMB hosts the local Startup Weekend, a 54-hour immersive event in which budding entrepreneurs, developers, and designers gather, pitch an idea, or just join a team, and spend the entire weekend designing the next great venture. Come pitch your great idea and become the next big thing in this region!

Click here for more information.


Big Bang! Define Your Customer and the Market

January 31, 2019 
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

            Understanding the needs of your customer is one of the most important first steps in any new venture. Learn to identify your market segment and customers, and evaluate whether (and how much) those customers value your product, service or business solution. This free session will help you develop questions to ask a potential customer in order to better validate your market, competitors, and customers. 

RSVP here. Watch Livestream here

Big Bang! Idea to Reality: Business Bootcamp/Enrich Your Pitch

February 7, 2019
4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Attend the boot camp to get the inside scoop on making the leap from idea to business, validating a problem and solution, and identifying a market and customer!

RSVP here. Watch Livestream here.


EPIC Symposium
February 19, 2019 
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

            Make plans to attend the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Symposium on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, in Sacramento. This symposium is a free, one-day event that highlights research projects using innovative energy technologies. This event also offers informative poster sessions and networking opportunities with high-powered speakers, industry leaders, and researchers.

here to register.

 EPIC Symposium

Join BlueTechValley’s venture, Pergio Welding Works, as a grant recipient of the CalSEED Concept Award!
February 21, 2019

Join us for a workshop on how to apply for this amazing funding opportunity!
The California Clean Energy Fund will begin taking applications for the California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) program soon. 

CalSEED offers funding for high potential entrepreneurs who are passionate about clean energy and working on very early-stage new energy ideas. These innovations, including hardware, materials science, software-based applications, and design solutions, will propel California to a clean energy future. 

Open to individuals, groups or organizations with an early-stage energy innovation, awardees will gain access to a rich ecosystem of resources, tools and networks that advance their professional development.  We encourage those who have applied before, as well as new applicants, to apply.         

Want more information on the application process? Join CalSEED staff and partners for a short workshop or via webinar on how you can apply for funding for your early-stage energy concept.


Visit for more information regarding the application!

  Other Events and Webinars

Valley Innovators – Fireside Chat with Agrian + nail your startup pitch 
January 24, 2019

The Pi Shop Product Incubator in Fresno is hosting an inspiring fireside chat on January 24 with local success story Agrian Inc, followed by a small group setting where their experts help you break down and improve your business pitch. 

Click here to RSVP.

AgTech19 Micro Conference 
February 7, 2019 
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Nevada County Tech Connection is proud to present the 2019 AgTech Micro Conference in participation with Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference. AgTech19 brings together farmers, software developers, funders, and others who are interested in learning about how technology can support local food production and benefit small farmers. Join Valley Ventures alumni, BoxPower, Ceres Imaging, and Ag Tools for a provocative and inspirational conversation about agriculture and technology in our community.

Click here to register.



Valley Innovators - Annual Pitch Contest 

March 13, 2019

Fifteen startups will be selected to pitch to an all-star panel of judges for a chance to win prizes and marketing exposure, including $50,000 in total cash for the top three finalists! Gain access to valuable workshops to help you improve your pitch and business strategy. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2019. 

Click here to learn more.


Funding & Other Opportunities

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program - Phase II

All Phase II projects must have previously completed a successful USDA Phase I project before applying for a Phase II grant. Success rates for applicants have been 50-60% for Phase II. Projects dealing with agriculturally-related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all 2018 SBIR topic areas.
Closing date is March 14, 2019.

Click here to learn more.

ARPA-E Announces $18 Million in funding for transformative energy technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced its latest funding opportunity designed to support early-stage, transformative energy technologies. This funding opportunity will remain open for an extended period, and new topics will be released periodically to target emerging technologies and potential new program areas.

Click here to learn more. 

Food Production Investment Program second solicitation released

Up to $30 million is available to fund drop-in energy technologies and emerging energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at food production facilities. The Questions and Answers for the second Food Production Investment Program solicitation can be viewed here.

For more information and guidance please refer to the GFO-18-903 solicitation manual, available here.

Grant Funding Opportunity - Renewable Energy for Agriculture Program

California Energy Commission staff will hold three Pre-Application Workshops to discuss this solicitation with potential applicants. Participation is optional but encouraged. Applicants may attend the workshops in person, via the internet or via conference call on the dates, times and locations listed in the link below.

For more information, click here.

Grant Funding Opportunity - Production Scale-Up for Clean Energy Technologies (GFO-18-302)

The purpose of this solicitation is to provide financial assistance to help clean energy entrepreneurs successfully advance their emerging best-of-class innovative technology to the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) stage.

Click here for more information.

Cleantech to Market (C2M) commercialization support

Cleantech to Market (C2M) is now accepting applications for 1,000 hours of FREE commercialization support.

Click here to learn more.

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   Did you know?
BlueTechValley offers incubator, accelerator and commercialization services and resources at NO COST!

Learn more about all of the amazing benefits that BlueTechValley has to offer here.

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