THE HEARTLAND OF AGTECH
Champaign-Urbana has long been a hub for technology as well as agriculture. In the past decade, those two paths have converged, paving the way for the community to become an “epicenter for AgTech.”
AgTech is the fastest growing sector in the Research Park, with innovation occurring across the value chain – from inputs to production, harvest to post harvest storage, commodity trading to processing. It leverages the university’s long legacy of excellence in computing and data analytics, and its status as a thought leader in newer technologies such as mixed reality; robotics; artificial intelligence; and machine learning.
The Research Park hosts an annual AgTech Innovation Summit in early March, which has grown to 900+ registered attendees including entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, startups, academics, students, growers, and others in the agribusiness sector.
AgTech in Champaign-Urbana (published by UIUC’s Office of Corporate Relations)
Access To Talent
The College of ACES is a multi-disciplinary institution that works to find innovative solutions to the world’s most critical challenges in order to ensure sustainable food and energy, a thriving environment and healthy families and communities.
ACES is a global leader in the most promising areas of scholarship in the agricultural, consumer, and environmental sciences. They are known for their globally competitive students (3,400+), their first-class discovery research, and the innovative knowledge they share.
Parkland College is the only community college in Illinois to offer a high-tech, hands-on career program. Their Midwest Center for Precision Agriculture provides students, area employees, regional growers, and high school educators the knowledge and skills-based training to be successful. With a 20-year history of training precision agronomists, they’ve built a strong regional reputation.
They have been recognized as the #2 Precision Agriculture community college in the country and awarded four National Science Foundation grants for their innovative programming.
John Deere Technology Innovation Center: one of six JDTIC facilities in the world, John Deere at Research Park focuses on connected farm solutions and robotics.
ADM Modeling Center: Employs student interns to perform computational work, conceptual engineering, and modeling to evaluate bio-based chemicals.
AGCO Acceleration Center: Opened in early 2018, has implemented unique augmented reality applications across business lines – thanks to the work of enterprising students. Read more HERE.
Nutrien Ag Solutions (Agrible): In July of 2018, Nutrien Ag Solutions acquired Agrible, a predictive analytics startup in the Research Park, for $63 million.
CME Innovation Center: Opened in , this Chicago-based company develops new trading technology with computing and data science students.
Bayer Crop Science Innovation Center: Opened at Research Park in winter 2018, works on projects from Bayer as well as Climate Corporation, from machine learning and AI to hardware.
Cargill Innovation Lab: Announced in August 2019 the opening of the Cargill Innovation Lab at Research Park, where students and staff will work directly with Cargill business leaders, operations teams and customers to help move digital ideas – in weeks, not months – to test mode.
Granular: Once a Silicon Valley startup now owned by Corteva, Granular’s Midwest regional headquarters are located in the Research Park. The company uses software and data science to make farming more profitable and efficient.
Corteva (formerly Dow AgriSciences): Opened an innovation center in 2015 at the Research Park with a focus on exploration and implementation of analytics technologies applied to agricultural challenges.
Country Financial DigitaLab: Opened at Research Park in November 2017, the DigitaLab improves customers’ experience through mobile application development and data analysis.
Genective: A joint Venture between two seed companies – Limagrain and KWS – Genective’s goal is to discover and develop novel modes of action for insect control in genetically engineered corn.
The Champaign-Urbana startup community crosses sectors, but there’s no doubt that AgTech is one of the area where it shines – and part of the reason why Silicon Prairie News named it the #2 City for startup and entrepreneurial activity in 2018.
EarthSense – One of 8 AgTech Startups Worth Watching (Successful Farming)
IntelinAir – One of 7 AgTech Startups to Watch (Agriculture.com)
INSIGNA – Named One of 12 Moonshot Startups (ChicagoInno)
AND WE HAVE FARMS – LOTS OF THEM
Champaign County comprises 1,008 square miles, the majority of which are involved in agriculture. Its agricultural output totaled $382 million in 2017 with an average yield for corn at 206 bushels per acre. Food and agriculture’s impact on the Illinois economy represents 1 of every 17 jobs and 9.6% of the state’s economic output, totaling $120.9 billion.