• Ag, health care, UAS and more: Highlights from the 2019 State of Technology

  • Ag, health care, UAS and more: Highlights from the 2019 State of Technology

    Ag, health care, UAS and more: Highlights from the 2019 State of Technology

    We were excited to once again host an event in conjunction with U.S. Senator John Hoeven. The 2019 State of Technology at the Avalon Events Center highlighted the incredible tech innovations in a range of industries, all originating from right here in FMWF and North Dakota. As Hoeven put it, this event showcases our state’s doers.

    “We’re much more than just oil and gas and ag. North Dakota boasts a lot of technology, too” said Josh Teigen, president of Mind Shift and emcee of the event, as we opened the morning full of inspiring presenters.

    Seth Arndorfer, of Dakota Carrier Network, presenting sponsor, also opened with an overview of wireless capabilities, fiber and data and the role they play in the tech experiences we have in today’s world that is dependent on mobile devices.

    Dr. Greg Wettstein, IDfusion, covered the topic of cybersecurity, and maintained that we must train our young people in this field to remain competitive. As we all become increasingly more dependent on today’s intelligent devices, it becomes even more imperative that we can trust them. He also mentioned “the other AI” – autonomous introspection – which was created here in the valet and as devices that have the knowledge of what their intended behavior should be, and changing their behavior to follow that. “When in the history of mankind has a nation willingly allowed foreign entities with adversarial interests to inject defensive capabilities in every aspect of our lives? That’s what happening right now. And how does the U.S. compete in a world where the only barrier to dominance is ingenuity?” Wettstein posed.

    Aldevron is a growing company dedicated to curing disease and manufacturing medical devices, and James Brown took the stage to share an overview of the incredible innovations they’re working on – ranging from DNA plasmids that are essentially engineered and targeted bacteria trained to act as a superpower to treat disease, to gene therapy manufacturing. Aldevron has just announced expansion plans for a 14-acre campus in Fargo, that has just broken ground and is expected to be operational by January 2021. This new facility will be crucial to their investment in employees and maintaining their tagline of “the basis of breakthroughs.”

    Next, Dante Battocchi and Holly Anderson of Elinor Coatings discussed their unique materials that coat metal materials such as watercraft and airplanes to protect against corrosion and degradation. Like many at this event and around the region, labs on college campuses, public-private partnerships and the NDSU Tech Park played a large role in getting them to where they are today.

    Peter Chamberlain of WalkWise described how their walker attachment syncs with mobile devices and provides insight so that families and caregivers can monitor their loved ones’ quality of life and receive alerts if a walker has fallen. He also shared simple tips for how our business community can support young companies and entrepreneurs by investing, becoming a customer or talking about what they hear about these products and services.

    “There is a huge silver wave coming as Baby Boomers retire, and in this industry there are low barriers to entry and lots of competition, so [senior living] communities are looking to stand out, and this is an opportunity to provide quality of life as people age,” Chamberlain said. He describes their device as an instant wellness program.

    Jeff Young, WEX Health Inc., talked about their organization’s history and how they try to make health care simpler and less expensive. Their new cloud-based BI app helps people manage their health benefits and finances.

    Joel Honeyman of Doosan Bobcat, discussed three new trends in construction equipment: social (Uber and Amazon), industry-specific (operator shortages and customer consolidation) and technological (automotive tech spillover, low-cost cameras and cheaper power). He says the face of the industry will continue to change in the next five to 10 years. How is Bobcat preparing? They are dedicated to innovation development by commercializing good ideas, leveraging their equipment to host new technologies like machine IQ to make job sites more productive and safer, and through their new planned downtown studio with new talent, new rules and new collaboration.

    One idea you’ve probably heard some chatter about is the Grand Farm. Greg Tehven, Emerging Prairie, and Barry Batcheller, Appareo, shared an overview and update of the initiative that sets out to be the first-ever autonomous farm, located south of Fargo and north of Wahpeton. “By the year 2030, we will be living with intelligent machinery in our homes,” Batcheller said. “What Steve Jobbs has done with cell phones has created a social methodology that we have not considered before. Fifteen years from now, a new direction will take place with us operating in and around robotic equipment.”

    Always a champion of ND’s tech, Senator Hoeven also took the stage to share comments and updates from Washington. “North Dakota is a world leader in technology, and I believe in that,” Senator Hoeven said. “There’s no doubt we do that in agriculture, and we need to keep building on it. North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. But we can’t rest on what we’ve done. It’s what we’re going to do next. Technology can close that circle.”

    Presenting the day’s first keynote address was Dana Peterson, USDA, who discussed next-generation precision agriculture. She shared that a taskforce was created to look at agriculture and rural prosperity, which identified that e-connectivity in rural America is the central pillar to prosperity across the country, and was the catalyst for initiatives to simplify broadband access everywhere.

    Some of the challenges the USDA sees on the horizon on behalf of customers lies with data privacy, understanding e-signature authorizations, and defining complementary policies. A big focus of Peterson’s presentation lied with data discovery and technological tools that they are monitoring.

    “North Dakota has jobs, and we want to encourage that,” she said. That’s why the USDA has a tech transfer office to provide an avenue for research discoveries to get into the hands of businesses that can use them.

    “What I see before me is that you are investing in the next generation of people, technologies, America and North Dakota. Thank you for your investments, your energy, attention and leadership as we take our country to the next generation,” she closed with.



    Rounding out the morning was Joseph Van Valen from the White House Office of Science and Technology, who talked about the three industries that they believe will change the future: drones, supersonics and automated vehicles.

    The FAA started requiring registrations for all drones in 2015, and since then, over 900,000 owners have registered a drone. Last year, registrations averaged 8,000 to 9,000 a month. Comparatively, only 220,000 manned aircraft are flying today. “The drone industry is new, it’s exciting, it’s growing, and it’s the future,” he said. “Our view is that drone operations are not one-size-fits-all… so regulators must create rules that work for all Americans, not just those in Silicon Valley.”

    He also shared news and updates in regard to supersonic legislation, regulations and initiatives. New airplanes will be environmentally responsible, with reasonable noise levels.

    Van Valen says that breakthroughs in one area tend to bleed over to other areas. Therefore, supersonic testing and R&D could lead to breakthroughs in space travel and broaden our horizons on the realm of possibility.

    Autonomous vehicles are trickier when it comes to policy due to agency overlap and domains of regulation. Manufacturing processes are being looked at to work with the DOT and marks the beginning of a national discussion. To learn more about this, he suggests looking up “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.” There, six principles within the federal approach are outlined. They are to prioritize safety; remain technology neutral; modernize current regulations; encourage consistent regulatory environment; prepare proactively for legislation; and protect and enhance American freedoms.

    “I am inspired by what America’s innovators can do when we clear regulatory barriers and set conditions for success,” he said, closing with a thank-you to North Dakota for leading the way in innovative spirit that lifts our nation.
     
    We also welcomed TechND in to name their 2019 Technology Award winners. This year’s recipients are:

    • Premier Technology Business: Bushel
    • Technology Innovator: WEX Health Inc.
    • Technology Champion: John J. Simmons, CarbonTec Energy Corporation
    Check out this media coverage:
    Check out these Tweets from attendees! 

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