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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SCHEDULE - CULTIVATE CONFERENCE 2019

  • 9:00 AM

    Registration

  • 9:00 AM

    Session 1

    • Governor Doug Burgum
    • Noel Anderson
    • Norbert Beaujot 
    • Howard Dahl
    • Kit Franklin
    • Entrepreneur Panel

  • 10:20 AM

    Break

  • 10:45 AM

    Morning Breakout Sessions

    • Microsoft's Airband: Bringing Connectivity to Rural Communities
    • Venture Capitalists and Ag Tech
    • Investing in Ag Tech
    • Hands Free Hectare Project
    • Student Experience: Microsoft (students only)

  • 11:55 AM

    Session 2

    • Casey McCullough
    • Jessie BoVay
    • Steve Tuttle
    • Carter Malloy
    • Orlando Saez
    • Brennan Turner
    • Nhat Nguyen
    • Jay McEntire
    • Carl Martin Casale
    • Steven Brockshus 
    • Brian Dawson

  • 1:10 PM

    Break

  • 3:15 PM

    Afternoon Breakout Sessions

    • TechND: Enhancing Technology Innovation Panel
    • Building an Ag Tech Ecosystem
    • Venture Plus
    • Pain Points: Agronomists and Farmers
    • Student Experience: NDSU Precision Ag (students only)

  • 2:35 PM

    Break

  • 3:00 PM

    Session 3

    • Ranveer Chandra
    • Nicola Kerslake
    • Drew Ryder
    • Mark Watne
    • Manuel Santana
    • Angry Farmers Panel

  • 4:15 PM

    Social/Happy Hour

SPEAKERS + MAINSTAGE

Noel Anderson_sized

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.

Doug Burgum_Sized

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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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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Steven Brockshus

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
FARMLAND FINDER

Steven is the founder and CEO of FarmlandFinder, working to make farmland information easily accessible. Growing up on a 5th generation family farm, graduating from Iowa State University and serving as a National FFA Officer, agriculture is in his blood. From a land auction that sparked an idea to now a quickly growing startup - FarmlandFinder is making it easier to find information when buying, selling or valuing land.

FarmlandFinder was founded in 2017 with a mission to reduce friction & increase transparency in the $56B farmland market. Today, landowners and farmland professionals use FarmlandFinder's digital tools to save time and leverage data to make better decisions when buying, selling and valuing land. The company raised a seed round in 2018 and was named the 2019 AFBF Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.

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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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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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NORBERT BEAUJOT

FOUNDER
DOT TECHNOLOGY

A farmer himself and a professional engineer—created a simple but powerful concept when he pioneered the first active-hydraulic, ground-following, individual row opener. Seeing the destructive nature of tillage first hand on his own farm, Norbert set out to find a better way to precisely seed the crop without having to till the land. The move to no-till would help to conserve precious moisture and reduce fuel and equipment operating costs. One-pass seed and fertilizer placement was the goal, but not at the sacrifice of sound agronomics, accurate seed placement and optimal stand establishment.

2019.06 Jessie Bovay

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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STEVE TUTTLE

PRESIDENT AND CEO
AGRIMETIS

Steven Tuttle has been President and CEO of AgriMetis LLC since April 2016. Steven comes to AgriMetis with more than 30 years of global agricultural business experience and expertise, including work in the biotechnology, agriculture and renewable energy industries. He is skilled in business strategy, development and organizational planning. His experience includes building, running, developing and leading global businesses. Specifically, within the Agricultural Segment he has held several sales, marketing and commercial management roles. One of Steven’s responsibilities has been as global business director for the insecticide and fungicide portfolios within Dow AgroSciences. In addition, he has had responsibility as global business director for the Bioscience platform, Ventures & Business development and Alternative Energy Business (AEB) within The Dow Chemical Company. Steven served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Dow Kokam LLC. He has traveled globally since 1994 and lived for 6 years in Tokyo, Japan. Steven will be accountable for building the team that will shape and accelerate AgriMetis’s approach to develop and deliver innovated molecules to the global agricultural market. He earned a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Engineering from The Ohio State University.

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Leah Johnson

OWNER
LEAH JOHNSON FARMS

Leah Johnson grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Evansville, Minnesota. She spent her childhood summers on her family’s custom harvest operation traveling throughout the Midwest harvesting numerous crops. In 2013, she graduated from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota, majoring in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Agricultural Communications. After college, she worked for Pioneer in the Emerging Leader Program as a production agronomist in York, Nebraska. In 2014, she transitioned into a sales role at Red River Marketing Co. She focuses on Pioneer corn and soybean seed sales, agronomy information, and seed treatments. In 2018, she began her farming career renting 700 acres of corn and soybeans from longtime family friends. In her spare time, she is an active member of the local corn and soybean grower’s associations and serves on the Grant County Farm Bureau board.

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Brennan Turner

CEO
FARMLEAD

Brennan Turner is the CEO of FarmLead. He holds a degree in economics from Yale University and spent time on Wall Street before starting FarmLead to help trade cash grain more efficiently. In 2017, Brennan was named to Fast Company’s List of Most Creative People in Business and, in 2018, a Henry Crown Fellow as part of the Aspen Institute. He’s originally from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, where his family started farming over 100 years ago. Today, between immediate and extended family there and in Fargo, ND, the farm harvested over 65,000 acres this year! His views on the agricultural industry are regularly featured in the likes of Bloomberg and CNBC, as well as small-town community newspapers across North America.

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Howard A. Dahl

PRESIDENT AND CEO
AMITY TECHNOLOGY

Amity Technology follows in the proud tradition of a family that has been involved in the manufacturing business in North Dakota for 70 years. Howard and Brian Dahl, the founders of Amity, are grandsons of E. G. Melroe, the founder of the Melroe Company, which developed the Bobcat Loader. After the Melroe Company was sold in 1970, Howard’s and Brian’s father, Eugene Dahl, and his brother-in-law, Les Melroe, bought control of Steiger Tractor. It became the leading manufacturer of 4-wheel drive tractors in the world, and was sold to Case Corporation in 1986.
In 1977, Howard and Brian Dahl incorporated Concord, Inc., which became the U.S. leading manufacturer of Air Drills, used primarily for the planting of small grains and oil seed crops on large acreage. Concord had a particularly strong market in the former Soviet Union and sold over 500 Concord Air Drills into that marketplace. Concord, Inc. was sold to Case Corporation in 1996. The day Concord was sold, Amity was formed. Amity Technology is the leader in North America and Russia in harvesting equipment for sugar beets. Amity Technology has sold over $300 million of product into the former Soviet Union and has assisted many other companies in entering this market.

Nhat Nguyen_sized

NHAT NGUYEN

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
OTRAFY

Nhat Nguyen, co-founder and CEO of Otrafy, is an experienced product manager and strategy consultant with work experience in Australia and Canada. Otrafy was created as the founders became frustrated with the lack of trust and transparency in the food industry, due to convoluted supply chains. They built the Otrafy platform to help both growers and manufacturers manage the collection and transfer of certification data across the food chain - providing visibility to all stakeholders and bringing trust back to food processing. Our AI-driven algorithm reduces the amount of time spent on this process and provides actionable insights to mitigate various risk along the food chain.

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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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Carl Martin Casale

SENIOR AGRICULTURE PARTNER OSPRAIE MANAGEMENT, LLC

Carl Casale is a purpose-driven executive and respected
thought leader in the ag and food industries. His three decades of experience leading globally influential companies across these sectors provide unparalleled insight into the converging forces that will soon fundamentally transform global agricultural systems. Casale’s proven expertise aligning companies with outcomes and his keen understanding of market dynamics and trends enable him to innovate, execute and create opportunity for organizations. He currently serves as the Senior Agricultural Partner at Ospraie Management, LLC and is focused on identifying and investing in the next generation of agricultural production technologies. In Casale’s seven years as the CEO and President of CHS Inc., the company returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. Casale focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company. At Monsanto Company, Casale rose through the ranks from sales representative to running the company’s largest division at age 36. Carl and his wife, Kim, operate a 300-acre specialty crop farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and his family resides in the Twin Cities.

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BRIAN DAWSON

CEO
HARVESTPORT

Brian is Co-Founder and CEO of HarvestPort. He is also Co-Founder of Fifth Season Ventures, an impact-focused venture capital fund, and is the Chairman of Full Cycle Bioplastics, a company that converts agriculture waste into biodegradable plastic. Brian began his career in agriculture by co-founding Palogix USA, now the largest renter of harvesting containers in the nation. Prior, Mr. Dawson co-founded PetroCal Inc., a technology company focused on increasing the production of mature oil and gas fields.

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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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JAY MCENTIRE

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
ARVA INTELLIGENCE CORP.

Jay is CEO and Co-Founder of Arva Intelligence a deep-technology B Corporation committed to creating, adapting, and deploying cutting-edge machine learning advancements in agriculture to protect the economic profitability of farmers and the environmental health of farmland. We are driven to serve farmers by mobilizing data to enhance nutrient efficiency, maximize crop investment, and quantify immediate and long-term profitability of sustainable farming practices. Following years of collaborative research between his farm, Glennoe Farms, the University of Arkansas and the Department of Energy National Laboratories, Jay McEntire partnered with Dr. Ben Brown to form ARVA. Our goal is to disrupt the conventional approach taken by the agriculture supply chain participants by providing Explainable AI (“XAI”) technology that provides growers intelligent, data-driven recommendations that reduce over fertilization and risks.

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KATIE PINKE

PUBLISHER
AG WEEK

Katie Pinke is evidence of rural America’s capabilities. From remote locations in rural North Dakota, she works as the publisher and general manager of Agweek. Katie and her team create a weekly magazine and regional television show that showcase agriculture “from field to fork” and investigate important issues for the farming and ranching community. The fifth-generation farm girl spent more than 12 years in marketing, then ventured out on her own as a communications consultant and event speaker. In addition to her Agweek duties, she remains a keynote speaker across North America. Katie and her husband have three children and own a small business. Outside of her work and family duties, Katie serves on the city council and volunteers for community organizations. Katie’s weekly Agweek column, available at agweek.com, takes on family, rural life, motherhood, career, community and more. Connect with her on her Pinke Post Facebook page or on Twitter or Instagram @katpinke, where along with insightful takes on rural life and agriculture she shares the beauty of North Dakota, from sunrises to sunsets and ball games to barnyards.

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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. 

Drew Ryder_Sized

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.

Casey_Sized

Casey McCullough

VICE PRESIDENT
RAZOR TRACKING

Casey McCullough is a Co-Founder and Vice President of Razor Tracking, which is the nation's leader in ag fleet and asset management with a focus on operational efficiency. Razor Tracking works with companies within the Crop Life 100, as well as individual location, and independent grower operations.

Casey grew up in the agricultural community of Hope, ND, and graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead. After college, he spent a decade in Minneapolis building and selling multiple companies from startup to acquisition. In 2012, he moved back to his hometown of Hope, ND, to focus on developing Razor Tracking.

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Pat Christie

FOUNDER
CONSERVIS

Pat has over 25 years of experience taking ideas and building them into something of value. A true entrepreneur, he bypassed the route of traditional higher education, founding his first business at age 20. That company eventually sold to the global data services firm WAM!NET, which won a contract in 2000 to build a connected communications platform for the U.S. Navy. As then EVP, he oversaw an expansion of the company to execute what became a $20 billion project, the largest IT federal program to date. After founding another company to address growing needs in compliance, Pat launched Conservis in 2008 to focus on enterprise sustainability and solve meaningful problems for farmers.

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Manuel Santana

FOUNDER AND CEO
SANOS NUTRITION

Passionate business builder. Systems thinker and skilled at applying complex decision models.
20 years of experience in agricultural, processing and food business with particular expertise in commercial strategies and business development. Formerly: Managing Director at Cargill Animal Nutrition. COO, CEO and Investor in multiple startups. B.S. Industrial Eng., (U. Panamericana). MSE, MBA, Strategy (U. of Michigan, Ross)
Leads funding and business development towards commercialization.

Parmjit Chima

Parmjit Chima

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY

A multi-disciplinary academic with specialism in mechatronics, robotics and IoT technologies. Parmjit leads the Department of Engineering at Harper Adams University providing strategic leadership in the development and delivery of innovative teaching programs, technology transfer and applied research in advanced agricultural, automotive and mechanical engineering. Research interests include the evaluation and adoption of new teaching and learning methodologies; and the practical applications of augmented and virtual reality in engineering education and commercial environments. Parmjit’s current area of research is in the development of driverless or autonomous vehicles in the UK. Parmjit is a key contributor and advisor on a number of Innovate UK funded projects to accelerate adoption of autonomous systems in driverless cars, passenger carrying pods and agricultural machinery.

Bill Willson

Bill Wilson

PROFESSOR
NDSU DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND BIOSYSTEMS ENGINEERING

William W. Wilson was named Distinguished University Professor in 2007 and is a Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University, Fargo. He has been working in the areas related to grain marketing, transportation, and logistics. His academic teaching covers these topics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research program at North Dakota State University is focused on grain marketing, transportation, international trade, and marketing and logistics. In these capacities, he has had numerous awards, has served as a guest lecturer around the world, has served on the Board of Directors for the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, and has provided advice to numerous international companies and countries on related issues.

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Graham Townsley

FILMMAKER
SHINING RED FILMS

Twice Emmy nominated and with a doctorate in Anthropology from Cambridge University, Graham Townsley has been making films for twenty years. After many years in the Amazon as an anthropologist, he has made ethnographic, historical films and scientific films for the BBC, PBS, National Geographic and many others. He currently has three screenplays in development: “Singer”, based on the true stories of Jewish artists struggling to survive in 1930’s Berlin, “Yucatan”, set in the Mexican Revolution, the true story of a love affair between an American journalist and a Mexican revolutionary and “Casement”, the remarkable life and Times of the Irish Revolutionary, Roger Casement. Graham founded Shining Red in 2008.

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KIT FRANKLIN

RESEARCH ACTIVE AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING LECTURER
HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY

Experienced in mechanical design and testing of agricultural machinery. Interest in all mechanised aspects of crop production with key areas being: Tillage, Crop Protection and Cereal Harvesting. Research interest in the development of Precision Farming techniques, future crop protection techniques, integration of tractor & implement management (TIM), application of novel technology to solve agricultural problems and field scale automation in the Hands Free Hectare project.

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Jake Joraanstad

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
BUSHEL

Jake Joraanstad is the co-founder and CEO of Bushel. Jake is heavily involved in the #NorthOfNormal entrepreneurial community in Fargo, N.D. He co-founded Emerging Prairie, serves as a coach and participant at Startup Weekend Fargo, and helped launch 1 Million Cups in Fargo. Jake will take any opportunity to talk about technologies that make life simpler.

BREAKOUT SESSION MODERATORS + PANNELISTS

Joel Harris_Sized

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.

Dr. Xin Sun_sized

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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RACHEL GERRISH

CO-FOUNDER AND SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
AGBOT CHALLENGE

Experienced Business Development Consultant with demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Innovation Development, Organizational Development, Public Speaking, Cross-functional Collaborations, and Business Strategy.

Director for Program Construction: lead discover analysis in markets of agriculture, robotics, engineering and computer software; develop research-based competition with annual milestones; strategic partnership mapping for cross-collaborative research

Engagement Manager: educate, recruit and build relationships with universities, researchers and entrepreneurs across the globe for ongoing program participation and support; establish opportunities for fundraising and corporate collaboration with Fortune 500 companies; counsel strategic innovative business development between industry leaders, universities and entrepreneurs; provide collaborative counseling for complex systems creation and intellectual property development; introductions across partnerships for innovative commercialization opportunities

Director of Public Relations and Marketing: strategic mapping for outreach engagement and representation for program at events, lead creation of website, maintenance of social media platforms, author of press releases, brand development/market messaging, ongoing global distribution and communications for program engagement

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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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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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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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Jane Schuh

VICE PRESIDENT
NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND CREATIVE ACTIVITY

Jane Schuh, professor in microbiological sciences at NDSU, currently serves as Vice President for Research and Creative Activity for the university. In addition, she runs an active research program in respiratory health and also serves as the director for the Cellular and Molecular Biology Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at NDSU. Previously, she served as interim dean of the NDSU College of Business, assistant dean for academic programs for the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources at NDSU, and the associate director for research in the Agricultural Experiment Station.

A researcher and instructor, Jane earned a BS in zoology and a PhD in cellular and molecular biology from North Dakota State University and served as a postdoctoral fellow in pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her research involves immunology and human allergic responses to mold.

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James Burgum

FOUNDER
ARTHUR VENTURES

James Burgum is a founder and Partner at Arthur Ventures. Prior to Arthur Ventures, James was a founding team-member of the North Dakota Trade Office, a public-private partnership that assists North Dakota companies in international business expansion. James began his career working in North Dakota’s Office of the Governor where he focused on economic development initiatives. James holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from North Dakota State University. In addition to Arthur Ventures, James serves on the board of Arthur Companies.

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BRIAN CARROLL

DIRECTOR
GRAND FARM

Brian serves as the Director of Grand Farm and the Director of Operations at Emerging Prairie, Brian is results-driven leader with extensive experience and success in driving strategic and operational excellence. Brian spent 8 years as the Site leader and Director of Advanced Engineering and Launch (AEL) at HERE Technologies and loves helping people plan, optimize, and launch new initiatives. He spent much of his career building high performing teams in the location content industry, gaining experience in building operations in India, Mexico and Europe. While operations and project management are his primary job functions by day, Brian also enjoys spending time with his family and traveling to interesting places.

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BARRY BATCHELLER

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
APPAREO SYSTEMS AND INTELLIGENT AG

Barry Batcheller has a B.S. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from NDSU. Following graduation, he joined Steiger Tractor, Inc as an electronics design engineer. In 1983 he founded Integrated Technical Systems Corporation in Valley City, ND on behalf of Steiger and was their Chief Operating Officer. He founded Phoenix International Corporation in 1987 and was President and CEO of Phoenix until the company was purchased by John Deere in 1999. Barry was appointed Director of Technology Growth at John Deere in 1999. He founded Appareo Systems, LLC in 2003, and now serves as their Chairman.  Barry has received numerous awards related to his contributions to the state of North Dakota and the city of Fargo. He has over 30 patents.

Felipe Gonzalez

Felipe Gonzalez

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

Felipe is a Brazilian entrepreneur that started and helped develop many businesses in Brazil, including a couple startups in the Education area and SaaS. Today Felipe is responsible to connect Brazilian corporates to Silicon Valley's Technologies in various verticals including Food/Agriculture, Supply Chain, Mobility and Retail.

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Anthony Molzahn

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
PROJECT PHOENIX

After graduating with a degree in Fine Arts and Photography from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Anthony began his career designing, developing, and managing all things remote sensing in precision agriculture. Over an eight-year period in this space, Anthony and his team architected an image analysis platform that automatically streamed variable rate classification maps into the controllers of farm equipment across the world. With this insight, Anthony co-founded Project Phoenix in 2017 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer. At Project Phoenix, Anthony works closely with his staff to develop what he calls a “universal connection layer”; it is a middleware that instantly builds application programming interface libraries for SQL-based relational databases.

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PETER SCHOTT

FOUNDER
GENESIS FEED TECHNOLOGIES

Peter grew up on a fourth generation family farm in Kulm, ND. In his past lives he has picked rocks, ran a seed dealership, and implemented ERP software at ag companies across North America. "Implemented ERP software" is a fancy way of saying he helped busy men and women who didn't know what Windows was learn how to use computers to run a business on one.

Peter is the co-founder of Genesis Feed Technologies, a mobile platform for the animal feed industry. When he's not in front of his computer he likes to spend time with his wife and three girls. In the remaining hour of the month he will sometimes read a book or workout.

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JUSTIN FORDE

PRESIDENT OF TECHND
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AT MIDCO

As Senior Director of Government Relations for Midco, Justin Forde oversees the company’s government affairs team in Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as at the federal level. Forde has testified before Congress and speaks frequently about rural broadband and Midco’s role in connecting the digital divide. Before joining Midco, Forde worked as regional director for Senator John Hoeven’s office, development manager for Bismarck State College and assistant director of marketing for North Dakota State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern State University and his master’s degree from Florida State University.

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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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Brian Glaeske

USER EXPERIENCE DESIGNER
FARMQA

Brian is currently the Director of Product Experience at FarmQA. His job is to ensure that the FarmQA’s products solve real problems for agronomists and growers. Brian has 24 years of experience in user experience, ERP and agriculture. Brian spent his childhood summers on his uncle’s farm in north central North Dakota. 

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Kevin Kimle

CO-DIRECTOR
AG STARTUP ENGINE

Kevin currently serves as the Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship at Iowa
State University , Director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative , and Associate
Teaching Professor in the Department of Economics . He is also co-founder and co-
director of the Ag Startup Engine , an investment fund and mentoring platform. Prior to
his appointment at Iowa State University, Kevin worked in a variety of capacities in
agriculture. His professional experiences range from agtech start-up companies, the seed
industry, venture capital, commodity risk management, and agricultural and trade policy.

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Tim Hassler

LEWIS AND CLARK AGRIFOOD
PRINCIPAL

Tim Hassler is responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence, investment, and portfolio management for the Lewis & Clark AgriFood Fund. Prior to joining Lewis & Clark Partners, Tim was a former Managing Director for Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners (ACAP), a $154.5M Rural Business Investment Company focused exclusively on the food and agribusiness sector. Tim managed all aspects of the fund, including fundraising, deal sourcing, due diligence, portfolio management, and reporting. He led six investments for ACAP and served as a board member or observer on each investment.

Additionally, Tim was co-founder of Patriot Capital Funding, a specialty finance company providing mezzanine debt. One-stop debt financing and equity co-investment to companies primarily owned by private equity sponsors. His responsibilities while at Patriot Capital Funding spanned all elements of the investment process including; Chief Investment Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer. Tim has previous experience with U.S. Bank covering food and agribusiness lending group in the capital markets division.

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Matt Plummer

THE YIELD LAB INSTITUTE
PRINCIPAL

Matt is a Principal at the Yield Lab and Cultivation Capital. He is responsible for the day-to-day investments, fundraising, portfolio, and company operations for the Yield Lab Global Opportunity fund and the Yield Lab global network. This includes maintaining and managing a deal pipeline, organizing the fundraising pipeline, running the due diligence process, and coordinating portfolio management and fund management. Prior to Matt’s role as Principal, he was the Program Manager for the Yield Lab Accelerator, building a novel and unique accelerator program geared toward value creation around generating customers, collaborators and investors.

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Stephanie Rich

MENTOR-IN-RESIDENCE
TECHSTARS FARM

Stephanie Rich is the Mentor-in-Residence for the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator in partnership with Cargill and Ecolab. She has hands-on expertise in bringing products and companies to market while building, cultivating and sustaining customer bases online and off. In addition, she is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Starting Up North, an online publication focused on telling the stories of startups based in Minnesota. Stephanie has mentored and advised numerous young companies and twice received the #GiveFirst Award as a mentor with Techstars. Stephanie graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Journalism, and the University of Cambridge with her MBA in Business and Management.

Paulo Flores

Paulo Flores

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
NDSU DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND BIOSYSTEMS ENGINEERING

Paulo Flores has an Ph.D. in Soil Science from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He also has obtained a M.S. in Soil Science, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and a B.S. in Agronomy, Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil. He is responsible for developing and implementing statewide precision agriculture education and research at the Carrington Research Extension Center, as well as on farms. His expertise focuses around soil fertility, soil management, crop-livestock integration, and dynamic of nutrients on grazed systems.

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James Lowenberg-DeBoer

ELIZABETH CREAK CHAIR AGRI-TECH APPLIED ECONOMICS
HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY

Prof. Lowenberg-DeBoer holds the Elizabeth Creak Chair in Agri-Tech Applied Economics at Harper
Adams University (HAU), Newport, Shropshire, UK. He is responsible for economics for the Hands Free Farm (HFF) team at HAU. He is also president-elect of the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) and co-editor of the journal Precision Agriculture. His research focuses on the economics of agricultural technology, especially precision agriculture and crop robotics. Lowenberg-DeBoer’s research
and outreach is founded in hands-on experience in agriculture including production of corn and soybeans in NW Iowa in the USA.

SPonsors + Partners

Sustainer

Bushel_900X400
Bank of North Dakota_900X400
Livewire_900X400

Supporter

Bremer Bank_900X400
Microsoft_900X400
Midco_900X400
EDC_900X400
DCN_900X400

Collaborator

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HTW_900x400
Midco_900X400
Spotlight_900X400
GA Group_900X400
American Crystal Sugar Company_900X400
Authur Ventures_900X400
FMCVB_900X400
Marco Technologies_900X400
NDSU Agriculture_900X400
RDO_900X400
ND_Commerce_Sized

Partner

Stoneridge_Sized
Canada_Sized

Community Partner

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