March 29, 2023
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Farm drones, cricket flour pitched at clean investment summit


The sixth annual Clean Business Investment Summit held at UC Santa Barbara was a success, drawing more than 200 attendees and 30 investor groups.

The attendees and investors head from a range of speakers and saw presentations from 17 startup teams and two student teams. Over the years, more than 575 startups and growth companies have been introduced to investors, and more than $110 million has been invested.

Teams came from around the state, but some local teams included a Simi Valley-based group of former employees at dronemaker AeroVironment who proposed equipping a drone with various sensors to help farmers gauge the health of their fields or orchards.

Two student teams presented. Re-Leash, started by a group of Santa Barbara City College students, has invented a new surfboard leash that self-adjusts to the correct length. The other team was from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB. It’s called Slightly Nutty and plans to market a gluten-free, protein rich flour that is made out of roasted and powdered crickets. “Don’t read the label any more than you would if you went to a butcher and asked what’s in the sausage,” quipped organizer Jerry Knotts of the California Coast Venture Forum.

Knotts said this year was the best outing yet, thanks in particular to the work of partner Christie Communications.

“I think we’ve found a niche that really works,” Knotts said. “The quality of the companies keeps getting better and better each year.”