Agriculture technology summit celebrates fifth anniversary


The Daily Illini File Photo

The Sierra Building at Research Park.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The University’s Research Park will hold its fifth annual Agriculture Innovation Technology Summit, bringing together professionals, students, investors, entrepreneurs, startup companies and faculty on March 4 at the I Hotel and Conference Center.  

The summit explores the cross between technology and agriculture, with topics including big data’s modernization of the agriculture value chain, growers’ preparation for future generations and investment in agtech.

According to a press release by the Research Park, industry leaders who are expected to speak at the event include Cargill’s Chief Technology Officer Keith Narr, Land O’Lakes Chief Technology Officer Teddy Bekele and The Climate Corporation’s Chief Science Officer Sam Eathington.

The fifth conference is expected to be the largest, with over 400 attendees from across the U.S. and the world expected by organizers.

“Over the past five years, this event has grown from a regional conference to draw national participants from across the ag value chain,” said Laura Frerichs, executive director of the University of Illinois Research Park, in a statement. “We have seen first-hand how this type of talent in a room together can advance the agtech sector in Champaign-Urbana and well beyond.”

Laura Bleill, director of communications at Research Park, said this event draws in a wide cross-section of people. 

“This year really shows the level of engagement we have in upper leadership and major companies,” Bleill said. 

The annual summit follows the rapidly changing trends of the agricultural technology industry and catches up to every new topic of discussion through its panels. 

“That’s one of the interesting things about Agtech … While we mention it as an industry, it’s really very interdisciplinary,” Bleill said. “It’s engineering, it’s industrial design, it’s crop sciences and statistics.”

The AgTech Showcase and Networking Reception immediately following the event is a new addition to the summit, where anyone from the public can attend and connect with companies and leaders in the industry.

Those interested in attending the event can register on the Research Park’s website. 

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