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The “Reverse Pitch” Comes to Minnesota: Ag and Food Leaders to Seek Fresh Ideas from Entrepreneurs and Researchers

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL—On March 27, some of the world’s largest and most influential food and agricultural companies will gather to present “reverse pitches” to an audience of researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators and subject-matter experts. The businesses will talk about distinctive industry challenges and invite the audience to propose solutions.

Reverse pitches are helping companies speed innovation in a wide range of fields, from high-tech to pharmaceuticals, however this appears to be the first time so many leading food and agriculture leaders will come together to use the approach. The showcase is the product of collaboration between, and support from, 12 Minnesota organizations including: AURI, Cargill, Compeer Financial, Ecolab, General Mills, Grow North, Hormel Foods, Land O’ Lakes Inc., Schwan’s Company, Syngenta, TechStars Farm to Fork Accelerator, and the University of Minnesota.

“We’re excited about the possibilities,” said Colin Steen, Managing Director of Syngenta Ventures. “At the reverse pitch showcase and networking reception, participants will have the opportunity to forge new partnerships and identify potential mentors. Some entrepreneurs and researchers may be selected for financing and other resources to advance their ideas. And the companies who participate will discover promising new ideas and paths to growth – in Minnesota and beyond.”

The event is designed to enhance Minnesota’s global reputation as an innovation center in food and agriculture.  “This kind of collaboration can help launch a new era in Minnesota’s long history of leadership in food and ag,” explained Shannon Schlecht, Executive Director of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). “By having these major food and ag companies issue innovation challenges, we hope they will uncover novel approaches and solutions to a variety of opportunities, from ingredient and product development to digital solutions.”

Each participating company will present one to three reverse pitches across the following range of challenge areas:

  • Sustainability Solutions for the Food Sector
  • Farm Management Software Data Incentives
  • Virtual Reality Financial Benchmarking
  • Improvements in Animal Production Incentives
  • Regenerative Agricultural Practices for Animal Production
  • Packaging Innovations
  • Traceability of Food Safety and Quality Issues
  • Ag Processing Efficiencies
  • Pesticide Application Innovations
  • Improved Pest Detection in Stored Food Products
  • New Uses for Dairy Byproducts
  • Alternative Ingredients and Functional Benefits
  • New Food Product Development
  • Improved Food Sensory Attributes
  • Practical Food Applications to Improve Human Nutrition and Health


“The range of challenges and opportunities ag and food industries and rural areas face is tremendous,” said Aaron Knewtson, vice president Food and Agribusiness at Compeer Financial.  “We are excited to participate in this unique collaboration and approach to help identify new ideas and partners to advance novel solutions from researchers, entrepreneurs and other creative individuals to help catalyze investment in rural America.”

The Reverse Pitch Showcase and networking event will be March 27 at the Marriott West in Minneapolis and is free and open to the public. A registration link and additional information is available at Those who cannot attend will be able to watch on a live web stream broadcast.

This Reverse Pitch Showcase is part of the larger New Uses Forum, hosted by AURI, Compeer Financial and the Georgetown University’s Rural Opportunity Initiative. The New Uses Forum is a two-day event (March 27-28) dedicated to accelerating ag innovation and investment, which will bring together some of the most knowledgeable voices on topics related to investment opportunities to entrepreneurial startup experiences.  It is intended to help connect innovators to resources via a wide range of panel discussions, breakout sessions and keynote addresses.

For more information on the events and participating organizations, or to request media credentials, please contact Erik Evans at 612.704.1120 or