Featured Carousel Features October 2018

Gainesville Tech Startup Gives Spoiled Produce a Fresh Start

Written By: Nathalie and Adam Kinsey

Up to 40 percent of all of the produce grown by our farmers is wasted during transit. Over $35 billion of product shrink is currently accepted as a normal cost of doing business.

The cause is invisible to the naked eye. Time-temperature exposure leads to a dramatic deterioration of produce quality and by the time you begin to see evidence of rotting berries or spoiled lettuce, it’s too late to save it.

Almost none of the perishable products we rely upon are monitored continuously as they travel through the supply chain, a journey that averages over 1,500 miles for fresh food. The intermittent data that is collected today is rarely analyzed or saved, which means grocery stores (and ultimately end consumers) usually have no way of knowing whether their milk was chilled properly along the way.

Increased susceptibility to food-borne illnesses, decreased agricultural productivity and higher food costs are all consequences of the current status quo.

With this challenge in mind, a team of four University of Florida engineers founded Verigo in 2013 to help solve the problem of food waste through end-to-end visibility and management of cold chain logistics. Plenty of raw data existed, but no platform came close to providing actionable insights that could truly effectuate more efficient decision-making at each step of the supply chain.

After five years of hard work, the Gainesville-based Internet of Things (IoT) company was acquired by Philadelphia-based AgroFresh Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:AGFS), a global leader in produce freshness solutions.

Verigo™ now powers AgroFresh’s revolutionary FreshCloud Transit Insights™ platform, which uses real-time predictive data insights to provide quality assurance and supply chain management information. This proprietary technology has been utilized by clients in 40 countries around the world to monitor the quality of temperature-sensitive products such as fruit, vegetables, pharmaceuticals and seafood.

“As the world becomes increasingly data-driven, our commitment to high-quality fresh produce requires not only the best chemistry and expertise, but also the best information technology to ensure freshness across the supply chain and increased logistical efficiency to minimize waste,” said AgroFresh CEO Jordi Ferre in a recent press release. “FreshCloud is a stride forward and helps us deliver on our unyielding mission to prevent global food waste and conserving our planet’s resources.”

Verigo continues to operate as a division of AgroFresh at UF Innovate: The Hub in Downtown Gainesville. The Verigo team has joined 300+ new AgroFresh colleagues around the world on this bold mission to provide breakthrough, end-to-end solutions that safeguard produce, prevent food waste, and conserve the earth’s resources.

How Does This Impact Me?

Up to 20 percent of all fresh produce is wasted in transit, according to a 2012 report by the United Nations FAO.

The equivalent of $35 billion of perishable products spoil in the back of a warehouse or truck before even reaching the end consumer.

AgroFresh Transit Insights (powered by Verigo) is an innovative new platform that records and translates temperature conditions into continuous quality information. Transit Insights arms decision-makers with the actionable information needed to cut losses in the supply chain and maximize the final quality of critical cold-chain products.

Five Years in Review

Gainesville has been an ideal place to start Internet of Things (IoT) company Verigo. In 2013, the IoT venture was the first startup to move into the Starter Space incubator when it was located in the historic Firestone building. Verigo’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the passionate support of early employees, angel investors, incubators, university professors and faculty, research commercialization partners and workforce development providers.

Verigo didn’t grow in a vacuum. Parallel to the startup’s inception nearly five years ago, the University of Florida and the Greater Gainesville region landscape has experienced rocketing growth. Several Gainesville-area ventures have hit key milestones in recent years including the following:

  • 3D-mapping company Paracosm was acquired by spatial computing company Occipital in 2017
  • Marketing automation company SharpSpring has grown to nearly 180 employees since 2012
  • Educational technology company Shadow Health has grown to nearly 100 employees since starting with three staff members in 2012
  • Event marketing company Feathr raised $2 million in venture capital and expanded its global operations
  • Pulse oximetry company Xhale was acquired by Phillips in 2018

In 2017, the Milken Institute ranked the University of Florida as the third best in the nation for translating ideas from the lab to the real world. UF performed higher than schools such as Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech and the University of Texas for technology commercialization and licensing.

Construction on several major capital projects has also been completed within the past five years alone including Depot Park, Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention, SW 9th Street at Innovation Square, Celebration Pointe, Butler Plaza North, Foundation Park and UF Innovate | The Hub Phase 2. These investments have substantially contributed to the diversity and quality of Gainesville’s live-work-play environment. As the saying goes: a rising tide lifts all boats.

About AgroFresh

AgroFresh Solutions, Inc. is a global leader in delivering innovative food preservation and waste reduction solutions for fresh produce. The company is empowering the food industry with Smarter Freshness, a range of integrated solutions designed to help growers, packers and retailers improve produce freshness and quality, reducing waste. AgroFresh’s solutions range from pre-harvest with Harvista™ and LandSpring™ to its marquis SmartFresh™ Quality System, which includes SmartFresh™, AdvanStore™ and ActiMist™, working together to maintain the quality of stored produce. AgroFresh has a controlling interest in TECNIDEX, a leading provider of post-harvest fungicides, waxes and biocides for the citrus market. Additionally, the company’s initial retail solution, RipeLock™, optimizes banana ripening for the benefit of retailers and consumers. AgroFresh has key products registered in over 45 countries, with approximately 3,000 direct customers
and services over 25,000 storage rooms globally. For more information, please visit www.agrofresh.com.

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