On Nebraska Innovation Campus, The Combine incubator hatches new agtech startups

By Silicon Prairie News

Before Seattle-based Costco broke ground on its $280 million poultry operation in Fremont in 2017, Scott Niewohner remembers a conversation with his cousin about the pros and cons of building barns to raise chickens to supply the plant. 

Chief among the cons, according to Niewohner’s cousin: daily retrieval of the dead birds scattered throughout the barns, which at a ‘typical’ capacity can contain up to 50,000 chickens at once.

“He said he wanted nothing to do with picking up all those dead birds every day,” Niewohner remembers.

But one cousin’s dread chore is another’s big idea. And while the Herman native and serial entrepreneur wants little more to do with chicken carcasses than his cousin, Niewohner found inspiration for his latest endeavor in his teenage son’s then-incipient proclivity for robotics: “I thought about my son’s robotics club, and I realized we’ve been doing this for years: picking up a ball and moving it to a box across the room.”