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4,800 Square-Foot Ag Start-Up Incubator Facility Opens In Woodland

WOODLAND (CBS13) — It's a first-of-its-kind in Northern California: a space designed to foster innovation in agriculture, food, and health fields as well as invite entrepreneurs to the area.

"There is such a shortage of lab facilities here in the Capitol region," said John Selep, who oversees Lab@AgStart on Main Street in Woodland.

It's a space to communicate, cooperate and collaborate - especially for small start-ups like Macro Oceans. We spoke with founding chemical engineer, Mohammad Tajparest.

"We get exposed to other incubator companies here and learn from each other," said Mohammad Taiparest, founding chemical engineer of Macro Oceans.

Turtletree Labs is looking to join, excited about the opportunity to grow.

"We are a biotech company that produces milk from all mammals - that includes cow milk as well as human milk," said Fengru Lin.

Local and state leaders have been hatching up a plan for this business incubator for years. And now the 4,800 square-foot facility is ready, doubling the capacity for start-ups in the region.

"There's young entrepreneurs here, people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, to bring together the perspective to solve really challenging problems," said Karen Ross, California's Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture.

The space provides small start-ups with two to three employees the opportunity to do groundbreaking work. For example, Macro Oceans is focusing on expanding the use of seaweed - a sustainable crop.

"It consumes CO2 from the atmosphere in the ocean, and also it doesn't need fresh water and land use," said Tajparest.

The $1.5 million project is funded by federal grants and hundreds of thousands of dollars from places like local grocer Raley's and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

Sharing the space provides mentoring and saves money.

"It's a very good opportunity that we found," said Tajparest, whose company Macro Oceans only spends one-tenth on lab space and equipment beaus they can rent instead of buy.

AgStart is a non-profit that been around for almost a decade. It has helped hundreds of innovators and startups. It offers education, mentorship, and connections.

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