The Cobb's Farm Cover crops like the ones growing on this Texas farm help ensure healthy soil that captures and stores carbon. © Ron Nichols/USDA-NRCS

Food & Water Stories

Tech Startups Feed Growing Population

Headshot of Michael Doane.
Michael Doane Global Managing Director, Food & Freshwater Systems


In my role at TNC, leading our strategies to provide food and water sustainably, I recognize the need for a shift in how we approach our conservation work and the urgent need to start incorporating purposeful innovations into how we solve the big challenges the world faces.

According to the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about 38 percent of the Earth’s total land area and 70 percent of the freshwater withdrawals is currently used for the production of food. Additionally, the U.N. Population Division estimates we’ll have another billion people to feed by 2030, meaning food production must accelerate in the future. Figuring out how we are going to feed all these additional people will also involve figuring out how to do more with less amid the effects of climate change and depleting resources such as clean water and healthy soils.

Addressing these pressing issues will require rapid innovation and investment in both developing new technologies and changing how we use technology to sustain our growing global population. It’s why I’m so excited about the 10 companies in TNC’s 2019 Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with Techstars.

In mid-August, I traveled to Denver and met with the founders of the 10 companies in the accelerator. I walked away energized by the new ideas I heard and inspired from the passion in these entrepreneurs who are building technology to solve many of the same problems we care about at TNC. I believe these and other innovations can help drive progress in our priority of providing food and water sustainably.

We need more entrepreneurs and technologists focusing their talents and resources on solving problems that matter and our Sustainability Accelerator is just one way we are leveraging partnerships in the tech sector. I encourage you to read the short summaries of the 10 companies below and join me in helping these companies solve for a more sustainable future by spreading the word about the great work they’re doing. You can reach out to TNC’s August Ritter for more details on the program.

AQUAOSO Technologies, PBC

AQUAOSO is building a water resilient future through advanced water risk analytics. They help financial institutions, insurers, investors, corporations and policy makers identify, understand, monitor and mitigate water risk through their software platform.


Bext360 provides comprehensive and measurable accountability for critical supply chains like coffee, seafood, timber, minerals, cotton and palm oil. The SaaS platform provides a traceable fingerprint from producer to consumer using blockchain and quantifiable sustainability measurements.


The health and quality of freshwater basins, rivers, estuaries and coastal areas are under increased pressure due to human activity and climate change. Gybe uses satellite imagery and proprietary ground-based hardware to transform the management, conservation, and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

Mammoth Trading

Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water consumption worldwide, and yet it's among the least digitized sectors of the global economy, which limits growers, regulators, and conservation groups. With their software, TAPP H2O, agricultural producers can easily track and trade water allocations, submit regulatory compliance documentation, and quantify conservation practices.


The biggest pollutant of fresh water worldwide is agriculture. microTERRA uses advanced biotechnology and IoT to convert the excess nutrients in agricultural runoff into a high-quality protein that can feed livestock.


Over 300 million tons of carbon is lost annually as waste from food, forestry, and agriculture. mobius is converting this waste into value using green chemistry and biology, creating biodegradable plastics and platform chemicals for applications in agriculture and beyond.  


Nori is a marketplace for reversing climate change. They enable companies to pay for removing CO2 from the atmosphere through more sustainable farming practices that improve  soil conditions and ensure we can still grow food in 50 years. Nori makes it possible to fix the food system and pull CO2 out of the air.

Propagate Ventures

Propagate Ventures is an agroforestry investment platform focused on bridging the capital and operational needs to integrate tree crops into farmland. Their agroforestry analytics and project development tools support farmers in the design, implementation, and management of tree-crop systems to increase farm profitability and ecological capacity.

Regen Network

Regen Network is a digital platform that connects farmers, brands, and institutions to make regenerative ecological agreements based on verifiable data so that we can rapidly accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture and conservation, and reverse global climate change.


Cities and counties spend billions annually trying to comply with Clean Water Act, while the quality of urban waterways continue to decline. 2NDNATURE has embedded our proven science into the first enterprise cloud stormwater management and compliance platform.    

Headshot of Michael Doane.

Michael Doane is the Global Managing Director of Food & Freshwater Systems for The Nature Conservancy.

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