Comstock's magazine 1218 - December 2018 - Page 32

n DISCOURSE Colorado do not allow any chemical pesticides [on cannabis crops], only biologicals. What makes the Capital Region suited to be a major ag biotech hub? It’s a really good place for companies because we’re very close to our customers. We’re so close to the ‘big ag’ and all the fruits and nuts and vegetables. So it’s a really good location; you can do pilots and field trials with your customers. And being close to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation — what DPR does sets the standard for what everybody else does in the country. So being close to Sacramento is really important. We are developing this cluster, and as more companies come in, more are attracted. It creates a critical mass, and I think we’re getting there now, certainly with seed companies and seed technology and ag-biotech. Davis voters have routinely voted down proposals that include a wet lab business park. What does it mean for Davis long-term if the city can’t get more wet lab space? There’s an explosion of investment capital going into agtech and innovative new agtech companies, and without wet lab 32 | December 201 8 space, we are going to be second fiddle to places like St. Louis with the Danforth [Plant Science] Center, Memphis with Innova Memphis [an early-stage venture capital firm] and Research Triangle Park [in Durham, North Carolina]. So we’ve got to get on the ball and create enough wet lab space to attract entre- preneurs. We’re getting better in Davis in terms of spinning out companies from UC Davis. HM.Clause has developed an incubator along with UC Davis, but it’s not enough. What’s the climate like for innovation in our region — what are our greatest assets and our most significant obstacles? Certainly, UC Davis is our greatest asset. We’re building an en- trepreneurial culture and innovation culture here, but because Sacramento has been a government town, it’s taken longer than other regions. We’re getting some venture capital; we need more of that. We’re starting to get this innovation culture and the infrastructure around it, and that just needs to continue. I just had two companies come to me recently — one was for a new unmanned aerial vehicle drone-type for spraying crops, and another was a strawberry picker robot. I’m seeing a broader range of startups here than I’ve seen in the past because en- trepreneurs are seeing there’s a lot of money now. Regardless of having the venture capitalists in the region, I think inves-