• The Chamber celebrates North Dakota's $160 million federal award for AgTech Advancement

  • FARGO, ND (January 30, 2024) – The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines program has awarded a coalition led by North Dakota State University (NDSU), in collaboration with the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber), Grand Farm, The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and the North Dakota Tribal College System, up to $15 million over the next two years, with the potential to receive up to $160 million over the next decade. This significant federal investment emphasizes North Dakota's role as an international AgTech leader, and this groundbreaking alliance will drive initiatives that tackle food insecurity, foster economic opportunities, enhance crop growth and introduce new crops to the market.  

    The coalition, called Food Systems Adapted for Resiliency and Maximized Security (FARMS), was named an award winner out of 188 concept outlines originally submitted throughout the U.S. The Chamber will support FARMS in workforce engagement, fostering industry engagement, facilitating networking and promoting the project's impact on the region. 

    "The NSF FARMS award marks a pivotal moment for our region, signifying more than just financial support. It serves as a testament to North Dakota's capacity to contribute significantly to global food security and emerge as a prominent player in the international AgTech landscape. This prestigious recognition also provides a unique opportunity for The Chamber to enhance its ongoing initiatives in workforce,” said Tami Norgard, Chair of the FMWF Chamber Board of Directors. “The commitment and engagement demonstrated by The Chamber team, under the leadership of Shannon Full and Jenna Mueller, are nothing short of remarkable. This award empowers The Chamber to elevate current workforce development efforts to extraordinary levels. The anticipation of witnessing the transformative impact of the resources made available by NSF is both exciting and promising for the continued growth and success of this organization. 

    “FARMS brings so much potential to attract talent and create opportunities for upskilling in our region’s AgTech workforce. The project’s inclusive vision will lead to equitable agricultural opportunities for new Americans, Tribal citizens, veterans and so many others looking for opportunities in AgTech,” said Jenna Mueller, executive director of The Chamber Foundation, who will co-lead education and workforce development on the project and bring expertise running the Good Jobs Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. “Our region has a wealth of AgTech pioneers, and we’ll tap into their expertise to grow the next generation of talent. This work will not only bolster North Dakota's workforce and economic development but also cement its position as a leading force in the AgTech landscape.” 

    “The NSF Engines award supporting FARMS will turbocharge the existing momentum and energy of North Dakota’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem so that everyone in the world knows of the amazing opportunities and resources existing here for AgTech entrepreneurs,” said Colleen Fitzgerald, vice president for research and creative activity at NDSU. “FARMS will be a magnet for new startups, given North Dakota’s business friendly environment. This work over the next 10 years is about accelerating economic growth for North Dakota.” 

    In its winning proposal, FARMS outlined solutions that will: 

    • Ignite inclusive, market-driven discussions about food security and equitable agriculture with a focus on North Dakota and Tribal Nation agricultural communities. 
    • Develop robust crop varieties and cost-effective sensors to capture data useful to producers. 
    • Collaborate with local AgTech leaders, researchers, startups and the global AgTech industry to identify and prioritize opportunities. 
    • Accelerate investments and quickly bring solutions to market. 
    • Encourage involvement and investment from the private sector, non-profit organizations and the broader North Dakota agricultural community. 
    • Establish a thriving AgTech entrepreneurial ecosystem that significantly enhances food security and equitable agricultural opportunities. 
    • Create local and regional high-wage jobs. 
    • Propel critical technologies for advanced agriculture through scientific and engineering innovations centered around key areas, including novel genomics studies, advanced predictive climate modeling, scalable on-farm data collection management and utilization including reconfigurable agile data sensor networks and communication networks, edge and cloud computing, real-time analysis of acquired data via artificial intelligence and machine learning with a focus on last acre connectivity. 
    • Advance the understanding of the diffusion of AgTech innovation through human-centered approaches. 

    "We are incredibly grateful to be part of the coalition that worked so hard on this award. This significant investment from the NSF propels us into a new era of workforce development,” said Shannon Full, president and CEO of The Chamber. “Working alongside NDSU, Grand Farm, the Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC and the Tribal College System enables us to foster opportunities for education, skill development and career growth in AgTech for so many people. This is pivotal not only for our community's future, but our state and the world too. We are so excited for what lies ahead as we begin this journey of powering ideas that feed the world!” 

    The NSF Engines: North Dakota Advanced Agriculture Technology Engine is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Award #2315315. 

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