Cultivate Conference

an emerging technology in agriculture conference

Save the date for Cultivate! On November 14th, we’ll be hosting the 3rd Cultivate Conference. The event will feature short TED-style talks and a farmers’ panel focusing on emerging technologies in agriculture. Throughout the event, speakers will share their experience, developments, and challenges. The topics will cover a wide array of the AgTech industry including software applications, precision agriculture, drones, alternative farming methods and more.

What is Cultivate?

An emerging technology in agriculture conference that convenes leaders to explore tech innovations they’ve created, are currently building, or are searching for in their industry.

What can I expect?

Hear from all corners of the agriculture ecosystem and learn about tech innovations happening in the industry. The event has been designed to have equal parts of mainstage content and networking so you have space to learn from the experts and time to connect with future customers and industry leaders.

What’s included with registration?

Registration gives you access to mainstage content, panels, industry booths, and complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Who attends this event?

This event will attract attendees from all areas of the agriculture and technology industries, from software developers and farmers to startups and venture capitalists.

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SPEAKERS LIST

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NOEL ANDERSON

SENIOR TECHNOLOGIST AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY STRATEGIST
JOHN DEERE

Noel Anderson is part of the advanced technology group at John Deere Electronic Solutions and has been named a John Deere Fellow. He has been working in the areas of precision agriculture, autonomous off-road equipment, and UAVs for over 25 years. Many of his 117 US patents are in these fields. Prior to joining John Deere in 2000, he worked at Case Corporation and Concord Inc. He was on the faculty of North Dakota State University after receiving BS, MS, and PhD degrees in computer engineering from Iowa State University. Noel and his wife have lived in Fargo since the late 1980s.

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Governor Doug Burgum

GOVERNOR
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA

Doug Burgum took office as the 33rd governor of North Dakota on December 15, 2016.  Doug brings a business leader’s approach to diversifying the economy, creating 21st century jobs, and revitalizing our main streets.

Burgum’s small-town upbringing and agricultural roots laid the foundation for his shared values of respect for the past, gratitude for the present and inspiration for the future.

Driven by a strong belief in North Dakota’s people and a powerful dream, he returned to his home state and helped lead Great Plains Software from a small startup company in 1983 into an award-winning tech firm that employed thousands of team members from more than 220 cities across North Dakota.

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RANVEER CHANDRA

CHIEF SCIENTIST
MICROSOFT AZURE GLOBAL

Ranveer Chandra is the Chief Scientist at Microsoft Azure Global. His research has shipped in multiple Microsoft products, including Windows, Visual Studio, XBOX, and Azure. Ranveer is leading the FarmBeats, battery research, and TV white space research projects at Microsoft. His work on FarmBeats was featured by Bill Gates on GatesNotes, and he has been invited to present his research on FarmBeats to the Secretary of Agriculture, and on TV White Spaces to the FCC Chairman. Ranveer has published over 90 research papers, and has over 100 patents that have been granted by the USPTO. He has won several awards, including best paper awards, and the MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators Under 35. Ranveer has an undergraduate degree from IIT Kharagpur, India and a PhD from Cornell University.

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BJ BRUGMAN

GLOBAL ACCOUNT MANAGER
ELANCO

BJ Brugman is an experienced corporate sales account manager with a demonstrated history of working in the animal pharmaceuticals industry with skills in budgeting, sales, strategic account management, B2B sales operations, and data analytics. He earned his Master's degree with a focused in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University - Krannert School of Management and MBA from Indiana University - Kelly School of Business.

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CHRISTINA CONNELLY

TRADE COMMISSIONER
CANADIAN CONSULATE

Christina Connelly has served as Trade Commissioner for Agri-Food at the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis since 2014, where her role is to facilitate trade and investment opportunities between Canada and the US-Upper Midwest in agriculture and food. Previously, Christina worked for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for seven years managing international trade programs and bioenergy policy efforts. She also spent several years evaluating state and federal energy, immigration, and defense policies in both Minnesota (Office of the Legislative Auditor) and Washington, D.C. (U.S. Government Accountability Office).

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CARTER MALLOY

FOUNDER AND CEO
ACRETRADER INC

Carter grew up in a farming family and has a lifelong passion for investing and agriculture. Prior to AcreTrader, he was part of a $1 billion equity investment firm for 5 years. Before joining in 2013, Carter was a Managing Director with Stephens Inc., a large private investment bank, where he focused on equity research analysis on the Internet, Data & Analytics and Real Estate Processing sectors. Prior to Stephens, he owned small businesses focused on internet marketing and sustainable fuel technologies. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and has previously held Series 7, 63, 86 and 87 licenses with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

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JESSIE BOVAY

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
MERCARIS

Jessie is the Director of Business Development at Mercaris where she seeks out opportunities to move identity-preserved crops to market and make information more accessible across the supply chain through strategic partnerships and innovative projects. Previously, Jessie was at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF) where she was a Project Manager and an Executive Operations Assistant for the CEO. Prior to her role at HGBF, Jessie was a Senior Transportation Analyst at Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). Earlier, Jessie was a Market Analyst for ADM’s international intermodal freight group. Jessie began with ADM in 2008 as a Commodity Merchandiser. Jessie holds an M.B.A from the University of Illinois and a B.A. in International Relations from the James Madison College at Michigan State University.

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ELAINE SHUANG QIU

VENTURES FOR FOOD, BEV AND AG-TECH
PLUG AND PLAY

Shuang Qiu is the Venture Analyst at Plug and Play Ventures focusing on early-stage investments in the agriculture and food sectors. With past experience working with farmers, distributors, and retailers, she accumulated extensive knowledge and insights into the food industry. Originally from China, Shuang is now based at Silicon Valley and works with startups and corporations globally. She spoke at various industry conferences(IFT, FBIF, Aglanta, etc) and actively engaged with the Ag and Food investor community. Prior to joining PNP, she was a startup co-founder, edamame farmer, ag policy consultant, and produce buyer - various roles along the food supply chain. She holds degrees in Plant Science - crop production and Agricultural Economics from China Agriculture University, University of Maryland (B.Sc.) and Cornell University (M.Sc.)

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Chris Abbott

INVESTOR
CGC VENTURES

Chris joined the CGC Ventures team in 2018. Previously, Chris led Craig-Hallum Capital Group’s investment banking group efforts focused on sustainability, agriculture and agtech. Prior to Craig-Hallum, Chris worked at Piper Jaffray & Co. and AWJ Capital Partners, focused broadly on technology, sustainability, healthcare and consumer companies. He also currently serves on the Boards of CGCV companies. Chris loves to compete in triathlons, basketball and tennis. He is an avid supporter of InnerCity Tennis and charity: water.

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Dr. XIN SUN

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
NDSU DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL AND BIOSYSTEMS ENGINEERING

Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun currently is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABEN) of North Dakota State University. Dr. Sun earned his Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Nanjing Agricultural University in 2013 and was a visiting scholar in Animal Sciences Department at North Dakota State University from 2010-2012. Before Dr. Sun joined NDSU ABEN faculty team, he was a research scientist at Department of Animal Sciences of NDSU (2015-2018) and a lecturer in the Agricultural Engineering Department at Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU), China (2013-2015).

Dr. Sun’s research is focusing on emerging advanced technologies in Precision Agriculture. His research interest areas include agricultural automation systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning, precision crop and livestock production.
As Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI, Dr. Sun has been successful in acquiring close to $5.05 million with 25 different research projects. Dr. Sun has collaborated with many academic and industry partners which include Harvard University, Iowa State University, Texas A&M University, Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu University, USDA, National Pork Board, Hormel Food, JBS and Charoen Pokphand (CP) China, etc. Dr. Sun currently served as the member of journal editorial and reviewer boards for 16 national and international journals focusing on agriculture and environment, meat science, animal science, food engineering, and food chemistry.

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DREW RYDER

SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR

Drew Ryder is a Minnesota-based agricultural and food technology entrepreneur. He has founded, funded, and run a number of start-ups in precision farming and food production. He pioneered the use of robotic systems in commercial-scale research facilities which have allowed the livestock industry to conduct trials more accurately and efficiently as well as accelerate discovery of new products and techniques to lower the cost of production. He also spearheaded development of new sensor systems, IoT platforms, and information software to allow farmers and large food suppliers manage supply chains more efficiently, control risk and reduce costs. In his latest gig, he is working on blockchain-enabled networks in the food supply chain which will enhance food safety and decommoditize agricultural products.

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MARK WATNE

PRESIDENT
FARMERS UNION MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY AND FARMERS UNION SERVICE ASSOCIATION

Mark Watne was elected as the ninth president of North Dakota Farmers Union in November 2013. In his capacity, he serves as president of Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company and Farmers Union Service Association, all headquartered in Jamestown. Mark has a long history of Farmers Union involvement, first as a youth and young producer farming at Velva. In 1990, he was elected to the NDFU State Board of Directors. He served for six years, and was also state treasurer. In 1996, he began a 15-year-career in Jamestown at the Farmers Union state office as a development specialist, agricultural strategist and staff executive director. He has led the development of the organization’s farmer-owned restaurants and other innovative ideas. Mark has been a board chairman for the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives, located at North Dakota State University, and is currently a board member for First Community Credit Union, Jamestown. He continues to farm but resides in Jamestown with his wife, Michelle. They have three grown children – Eric, Meghan and Nick.

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Spencer Stensrude

VICE PRESIDENT OF INVESTMENT
AGVENTURES ALLIANCE

Spencer Stensrude is the Vice President of Investment at Ag Ventures Alliance in Mason City. The 400 farmer cooperative is on a mission to increase farm profitability by investing in new technology. Spencer leads the sourcing, evaluating, closing, and management of new investments at the firm. In his time at Ag Ventures Alliance, he has led investments in nine high impact startups. Spencer’s business experience includes venture capital, commercial lending, small business management, in addition to being a real-life family farmer in North Iowa.

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Chris Johnson

OWNER AND OPERATOR
C&S FARMS, INC.

Chris Johnson is the owner and operator of C&S Farms, Inc. A corn, soybean, sunflower and wheat operation near Great Bend, ND. They also have partnerships in sugar beet growing operations. Chris has an Associate degree in Agri-Business from North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND along with a Bachelors of Science degree in Ag Economics from North Dakota State University. 2019 will be Chris' 45th cropping season. The farm uses technology in the form of auto-steer, yield mapping, on-farm weather station, and raises GMO crops.

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Colin Steen

OPERATIONS LEAD AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
SYNGENTA VENTURES

Colin Steen is Managing Director and Head of Operations for Syngenta Ventures, and has been with the Syngenta Ventures team since 2018. Prior to this Colin has held multiple Sales and Marketing leadership roles at Syngenta throughout his 24 year career. Most recently he managed the Golden Harvest corn and soybean business across the Midwest, an experience that has given him deep understanding of the needs of the US farmer. In addition to this experience, Colin was an Investment Manager at LSP BioVentures in Boston from 2006-2009. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Premier Crop Systems and Sound Ag.

Born and raised on a grain and cattle farm in Weldon, Saskatchewan; Colin holds a B.Sc in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan (focus in Crop Science) and a MBA from the University of Guelph.

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LEVI ANDRIST

ATTORNEY
THE GA GROUP

Levi engages in an active government relations practice, working with state and local decision makers to create solutions on his clients’ behalf. He has a broad array of  legislative and executive branch lobbying experience. Levi attended the University of North Dakota School of Law where he graduated with distinction, was elected to the Order of the Coif, and served as editor in chief of the North Dakota Law Review. He then served as law clerk to Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle of the ND Supreme Court.

Before law school, Levi graduated summa cum laude from Concordia College with a bachelor of arts degree in music. He also interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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Orlando Saez

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
AKER

Orlando is the Co-founder & CEO of Aker Technologies, Inc., a venture-backed precision crop diagnostic data and service company based in the Midwest. Orlando is a goal-oriented leader with executive management background, including experience with tech start-ups, buy-outs, and established companies across telecommunication and agriculture industries. Notable exits include Boingo Wireless, where Orlando led product marketing.
At Aker, Orlando serves as co-inventor and patent author of core company IP, spearheading strategy, operations, key hires, while expediting the global adoption of the company’s proprietary technology.
Orlando holds a BS Computer Engineering from University of Puerto Rico, MS in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology and MBA at Stuart School of Business.
Under Orlando’s leadership Aker has secured over $5M in funding, leveraged marketing expertise to define the go-to-market (GTM) strategy which engaged two of the largest global brands (Bayer Crop Science and BASF) at a national level within 2 years.

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Erik Barner

CHEIF INVESTMENT OFFICER
GEN7 INVESTMENTS

Erik Barner is the Chief Investment Officer of Gen7 Investments, a Fargo-based private investment firm. Erik joined Gen7 shortly after its inception in June 2017. Prior to joining Gen7, Erik was an Equity Research Aanalyst with Institutional Capital, a global asset manager in Chicago. Erik got his professional start as an investment banking analyst at Piper Jaffray. After Piper, Erik served as a private equity analyst at Norwest Mezzanine Partners. Currently, Erik serves as an adjunct professor of finance at North Dakota State and is also a member of the Board of Directors of Hospice of the Red River Valley. Erik is originally from Fargo and is a graduate from the University of St. Thomas (2007) and Columbia Business School (2013).

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JOEL HARRIS

CO-DIRECTOR
AG STARTUP ENGINE

Joel is the President of Charter Oak Creative, a consulting practice focusing on helping startups and entrepreneurs solve problems. He is also the Co-director of the Ag Startup Engine an early seed investment fund focusing on mentorship and impact in the agriculture technology space. Formally, he was the Director of Product at GlobalVetLINK and prior to that was VP of Harrisvaccines which was acquired by Merck Animal Health in November of 2015. Along with coordinating investor relations and mentoring at the Ag Startup Engine, he participates in several advisory and mentoring roles to entrepreneurs and startups in the SaaS, Agtech, Biotech, and Healthcare industries in and around the Midwest. Joel holds a degree in economics from the University of Iowa and a professional certificate in public relations, marketing, and non-fiction writing from Northwestern University.

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Nicola Kerslake

FOUNDER
CONTAIN INC

Nicola is the founder of Contain Inc., a fintech platform for indoor agriculture. It uses data to solve indoor growers’ largest challenge, finding funding for their greenhouse, warehouse or container farm. The Company works with 20+ leading equipment vendors, and with a pool of 10+ lenders to facilitate indoor agriculture equipment leases. In July 2019, leading accelerator Techstars invested in Contain Inc and the Company joined its Farm to Fork program, working with executives from companies such as Cargill.

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Sanjeev Krishnan

CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
S2G VENTURES

Bio coming soon!

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Steven Brockshus

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
FARMLAND FINDER

Bio coming soon!

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JUSTIN FORDE

PRESIDENT
TECHND

Bio coming soon!

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JAY MCENTIRE

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
ARVA INTELLIGENCE CORP.

Bio coming soon!

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PARMJIT CHIMA

COMING SOON
HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY

Bio coming soon!

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Howard A. Dahl

PRESIDENT AND CEO
AMITY TECHNOLOGY

Bio coming soon!

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Larry Page

PRINCIPAL
LEWIS & CLARK PARTNERS

Bio coming soon!

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RACHEL GERRISH

CO-FOUNDER AND SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
AGBOT CHALLENGE

Bio coming soon!

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Nhat Nguyen

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
OTRAFY

Bio coming soon!

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BRIAN DAWSON

CEO
HARVESTPORT

Bio coming soon!

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Connie Bowen

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
THE YIELD LAB INSTITUTE

Bio coming soon!

SPonsors + Partners

Sustainer

Supporter

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Collaborator

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