Minnesota has been an innovator in food and agriculture for more than 150 years. It ranks fifth in the nation for agricultural production, with total crop and livestock market values exceeding $21 billion in 2021. It serves as one of the largest producers of corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle and dairy, and is a top producer of sugar beets, oats, turkeys and wild rice.
In addition, the state is home to several Fortune 500 companies, multiple leading agribusiness cooperatives, a leading land-grant research university, including extension and research outreach centers, a network of 54 campuses through the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, 13 commodity research and promotion councils, several active farm organizations, innovative nonprofit organizations, as well as specialty crops and commodities producers.
With so many people working across the industry, it came as no surprise when Grow North and its partners founded Food, Ag, Ideas Week (FAI), an initiative to bring the community together, elevate and connect Minnesota’s ecosystem and offer an invitation for the world to engage.
“We’re doing something different. We believe the opportunities and challenges of our food system require all types of problem solvers and that’s why we bring together diverse perspectives, including Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, growers, innovators, nonprofits and investors from Minnesota and across the country.” said Allison Hohn, Executive Director of Grow North.
Founded in 2018, FAI Week is an annual, multi-day program featuring a series of speakers, events, tours and demonstrations showcasing innovative ideas, building connections across sectors and encouraging leaders to join Minnesota’s entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem to help move the industry forward. This year’s FAI Week is October 3-6 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. More information is available at foodagideas.com.
AURI is collaborating with Grow North on two FAI sessions this year. The Fields of Innovation (FOI) team is participating in FAI Week 2022 to showcase Minnesota’s diverse agricultural ingredient supply chain. The FOI session highlights emerging crops and the companies driving their growth, and includes a brief historical context of Minnesota’s rich agricultural landscape, followed by engaging discussions to explore emerging crops and ingredients.
A New Frontier of Fertilizers session will feature innovative companies and researchers exploring new processes and products related to fertilizer, a key input to increasing yields and feeding the world. Speakers will share insight and advancements related to nitrogen, phosphorous, biologics and precision agriculture. A Minnesota farmer will share insights on how these innovations need to fit into their farm operations and why innovations around fertilizer are important.
Grow North is a subsidiary of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and works to create an interconnected, sophisticated, invested and accessible ecosystem for Minnesota’s entrepreneurs and innovators across food and agriculture.
The organization hosts a monthly entrepreneur series, as well as a ‘Train the Trainer’ series for ecosystem providers and leaders. It also offers resource databases and public speaking and promotion to share the story of Minnesota’s growing ag and food entrepreneurial community.
To learn more about Grow North and its programs, visit carlsonschool.umn.edu/grownorth
Fields of Innovation
AURI Connects: Fields of Innovation is a platform focused on bringing together Minnesota’s regional ag and food value chains from the producer to the retailer to build capacity and successfully commercialize new and emerging crops. Events focus on highlighting promising new crops, examining market opportunities for emerging crops and highlighting new technologies in existing crops.
Fields of Innovation has a multi-crop focus, providing opportunities for stakeholders to expand their networks, identify synergies and build new collaborations. With its focus on connecting innovation and market development, Fields of Innovation aims to build a strong ecosystem for new and emerging crops in Minnesota and its border states that will provide ag producers and value chain partners with new, sustainable options to diversify and thrive.
Webinars, field days, reports and forums have focused on Kernza®, a perennial wheat grass, industrial hemp, pennycress, winter camelina and controlled environment agriculture. Most recently, Fields of Innovation launched Innovator Profiles, a Q&A series with Minnesota entrepreneurs who partnered with AURI to build capacity and successfully commercialize new and emerging crops.