Californian innovation ecosystem: emergence of agtechs and the new wave of agriculture


  • Andrei Mikhailov Unisinos Business School, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Porto Alegre
  • Carlos Oliveira School of Management, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS
  • Antonio Domingos Padula School of Management, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Porto Alegre
  • Fernanda Maciel Reichert School of Management, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Porto Alegre



Innovation, Innovation ecosystem, Agriculture, ICT, Agtech


Purpose – In a context where the process of creation of technology and innovation for agriculture is being
disrupted at a fast pace, the authors proposed to study one of the most prominent agtech innovation
ecosystems. Therefore, this paper aims to identify key characteristics that make California’s agtech
innovation ecosystem remarkable.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is an exploratory and descriptive research carried out in a
twofold. First, data were collected through documental research focusing on actors such as universities, R&D
centers and programs, business accelerators and venture capital platforms, agtechs, as well as multinational
companies. Second, structured interviews were carried out to complement the secondary data collected and to
obtain experts’ perception on the relationships between actors of the ecosystem and on the characteristics that
make this ecosystem remarkable.
Findings – The paper provides empirical insights about the relevance of California’s agtech innovation
ecosystem to creation of radical innovations in agriculture. It has a differentiated environment, where
educational and research institutions play a key role in developing new knowledge. It also shows how
important funding is to allow new business to succeed. Additionally, it shows that actors interact in a complex
network, with multiple roles. All these key characteristics allow this agtech innovation ecosystem to be so
Research limitations/implications – Because of the chosen research approach, the research results
may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to survey a larger number of actors of this
and other agtech innovation ecosystems to test the identified key characteristics further.
Practical implications – The paper includes indication of characteristics necessary to develop a
prominent agtech innovation ecosystem, which may contribute to decision makers to develop policies aiming
to promote this type of ecosystem.

Originality/value – This paper fulfils an identified need to open the “black-box” of agtech innovation
ecosystems, which may then allow radical innovations within the sector to be developed and taken to the


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Californian innovation ecosystem: emergence of agtechs and the new wave of agriculture. (2021). INMR - Innovation & Management Review, 18(03), 222-236.