As part of its Regional Innovation Engines program, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a North Dakota regional partnership up to $15 million over the next two years to support innovation, jobs and economic growth in the state’s agriculture technology (AgTech) sector. Part of the NSF Engines competition, the award has the potential to increase to $160 million over 10 years and is funded, in part, by the CHIPS and Science Act.
Named Food systems Adapted for Resiliency and Maximized Security (FARMS), the collaboration includes five organizations: North Dakota State University (NDSU), North Dakota Tribal College System, Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation, and Grand Farm. The award recognizes that the FARMS coalition has statewide reach in AgTech, biotechnology and genomics, and can bring those innovations to market with a robust tech transfer infrastructure through the NDSU Research Foundation.
Out of 188 concept outlines submitted throughout the U.S., FARMS was recognized for the way it can help support what The White House called “innovation in geographies that have not received the full benefits of technology advancement in past decades.” FARMS was the only agriculture-based project among the finalists.
“The inaugural NSF Engines awards demonstrate our enduring commitment to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation anywhere,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Through these NSF Engines, NSF aims to expand the frontiers of technology and innovation and spur economic growth across the nation through unprecedented investments in people and partnerships. NSF Engines hold significant promise to elevate and transform entire geographic regions into world-leading hubs of innovation.”
Expanding North Dakota’s AgTech Industry
The federal investment of potentially up to $160 million over 10 years will be used to tap into and expand existing AgTech networks and strengths in North Dakota, and offer a platform for new ideas, entrepreneurs, and businesses. It will fund programs that help solve food insecurity and expand economic opportunities for people and organizations, and increase the growth of existing crops and introduce new crops to market.
“This team has earned this win by showing what North Dakota brings to the world: the brightest minds and leaders in AgTech, food production, biotech and genomics.”
— Governor Doug Burgum
“This team has earned this win by showing what North Dakota brings to the world: the brightest minds and leaders in AgTech, food production, biotech and genomics,” said Governor Doug Burgum. “Our agriculture community has come together across all 53 counties to demonstrate how talented people are driving innovation that improves yields, efficiency and profitability for nations everywhere.”
In its winning proposal, FARMS outlined solutions that will:
- Ignite inclusive, market-driven discussions about food security and equitable agriculture with a focus on North Dakota and Tribal Nation agricultural communities.
- Develop robust crop varieties and cost-effective sensors to capture data useful to producers.
- Collaborate with local AgTech leaders, researchers, startups and the global AgTech industry to identify and prioritize opportunities.
- Accelerate investments and quickly bring solutions to market.
- Encourage involvement and investment from the private sector, non-profit organizations, and the broader North Dakota agricultural community.
- Establish a thriving AgTech entrepreneurial ecosystem that significantly enhances food security and equitable agricultural opportunities.
- Create local and regional high-wage jobs.
AGCO, a global leader in the agriculture industry, has been named the anchor tenant for a collaborative ag-network in North Dakota. Read more…
- Propel critical technologies for advanced agriculture through scientific and engineering innovations centered around key areas, including novel genomics studies, advanced predictive climate modeling, scalable on-farm data collection management and utilization including reconfigurable agile data sensor networks and communication networks, edge and cloud computing, real-time analysis of acquired data via artificial intelligence and machine learning, with a focus on last acre connectivity, and will advance understanding of the diffusion of AgTech innovation through human-centered approaches.
“The NSF Engines award supporting FARMS will turbocharge the existing momentum and energy of North Dakota’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem so that everyone in the world knows of the amazing opportunities and resources existing here for AgTech entrepreneurs,” said Colleen Fitzgerald, Vice President for Research and Creative Activity at NDSU. “FARMS will be a magnet for new startups given North Dakota’s business friendly environment. This work over the next 10 years is about accelerating economic growth for North Dakota.”