Winners of Riverside Angel Summit: FarmSense and SiLi-ion, Inc. Get $42K Each

By: Sharjeel Sohaib


Feb 18, 2022


Riverside Angel Summit 2021

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The Riverside Angel Summit

Two startups from the Inland Empire, FarmSense and SiLi-ion, won $42K each after the Riverside Angel Summit gave an investment award of $80K split in half between the two winners. The angel summit is “a partnership between UC Riverside, the City of Riverside, and community members,” writes Holly Ober in UCR News.

The Riverside Angel Summit was organized by the University of California Riverside and supported by a US Economic Development Administration 2019 Seed Fund Support Grant. It began on September 1, 2021, and ended on January 10, 2022, with investment awards.

The Summit brought together local investors and high-quality startups to boost the region’s entrepreneurship culture and promote angel investing in Inland Southern California.

We Covered this in our Weekly Wire Roundup

Winners Selection Process

In addition to the three-month instructional program, entrepreneurs competed in pitch contests. 

This is how the winner selection process was done:

  1. A total of 24 quarterfinalists were selected. 
  2. They were then narrowed down to twelve semifinalists.
  3. Four finalists were chosen. 
  4. After that, the finalists went through a thorough due diligence process that allowed Citrus Seeds fund investors to pick the two winners.

The Riverside Angel Summit Winners

Citrus Seeds Fund angel investors chose FarmSense, Inc. and SiLi-ion, Inc. as winners of the first Riverside Angel Summit. Each winner was awarded $42,000.

  1. FarmSense

The FarmSense’ FlightSensor’ minimizes the aggregation of destructive agricultural pests on a crop by warning producers early to manage pesticide treatments appropriately. The company’s product is a physically autonomous sensor paired with a data subscription service. 

Artificial intelligence and predictive modeling are used to suggest therapy choices. It works with any Farm Management System. It can also identify several species and pays for itself in only one season.

According to Leslie Hickle, CEO of the FarmSense

“This investment will allow us to speed manufacturing to help scale our technology. We are thankful to the UC Riverside team and Citrus Seeds for putting their trust in us and for the mentoring we have received to help us get to where we are today,” 

  1. SiLi-ion Inc.

SiLi-ion Inc. makes a “drop-in” additive that immediately improves lithium-ion battery performance. Silicon nanoparticles are encased in a high-quality graphite layer in this product. 

The simple, cost-effective technique formed as a powder is based on plentiful and sustainable minerals silicon and carbon. It is designed to be seamlessly incorporated into large-scale lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants.

SiLi-ion’s CEO, Mark Hatch, on Winning

“We learned that the interest in potentially disruptive deep tech in the lithium-ion battery space extends into the angel investment community in Riverside and that we are far enough along to raise funds from this class of investors. The ecosystem developed by UC Riverside supports university-developed technology, and the startups associated with it are strong and growing” 

Over the last five years, Riverside has experienced an increase in technology-focused entrepreneurship. The Office of Technology Partnerships (OTP) at UC Riverside has contributed to this effort. 

Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor for technology partnerships at UC Riverside

“A key driver for the launch of the Riverside Angel Summit and the Citrus Seeds special purpose fund was the development of a robust investment community to help regional startups on their next stage of growth and root them in Riverside, a location where they can thrive.” 

Riverside Agtech Startup FarmSense Gets Big Press Coverage With TechCrunch:

Pests cause a 20-40% loss of agricultural production worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The organization estimates that “plant diseases cost the global economy around $220 billion, and invasive insects around US$70 billion“. Riverside, California-based Agtech startup FarmSense, founded in 2016, is tackling this problem of crop pest monitoring through its FlightSensor, which uses novel optical sensor technology to automate the process of real-time insect classification and counting.

AgTech Startup FarmSense Obtains $2.2M in SBIR Funding: FarmSense, a Riverside, CA-based pest management AgTech startup, obtained $2.2 Million in SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) funding. The latest funds will be specifically used for biosecurity research and to understand the impact of Japanese Beetles and Gypsy Moths as invasive species.


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