2016 Agriculture Technology Innovation Summit

Modern agriculture is being transformed by a confluence of advancing technologies. As a result, record-breaking investments in the sector are supporting new ventures. The University of Illinois is uniquely positioned where agriculture, engineering, and technology intersect, and is on its way to becoming a hub of agriculture entrepreneurship activity. 

The Agriculture Technology Summit was held on Thursday, February 18 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign. A highly interactive event featuring innovators from industry and academia, entrepreneurs, and investors, the one-day program included keynote speakers, panel discussions, and a lunch program. We hope you can join us next year.

Digital Booklet

Highlights from AgTech 2016:

View the various slide decks and videos from some of our 2016 presentations:
"Traceability Across the Entire Food Supply Chain" - H. Jeffrey Castillo, video
"Animal Health" - Aaron Gilbertie, video
"Functional Foods" - Keith A. Garleb, video
"Connected Farming" - Julian Sanchez, PhD, video
"Data Modernizing Agronomy" - Chris Harbourt, PhD, video
"Farm Ops Management" - Bborie Park, video
"Precision Agriculture Landscape" - Andrew Selek, panel video
"Smart Systems Revolutionizing Ag" - Jason Bull, video
"UAVs in Agriculture" - Jack Marck, video

Schedule of Events:

Reception: Wednesday, February 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the EnterpriseWorks Atrium.
Summit: Thursday, Feb. 18. Registration opens at 8 a.m. and the event will conclude at 3 p.m.

Opening Reception 2/17/16
hosted by the College of ACES

Enterpriseworks Atrium
Dean Hauser Welcome

5:30-7:00 pm

Summit on 2/18/16, I-Hotel

I-Hotel and Conference Center
Continental breakfast served

8:00-8:30 am

Opening Remarks:

Laura Frerichs, Pradeep Khanna, Neal Merchen as co-hosts of the event

8:30-8:45 am

Morning Keynote:

Lee Strom and Tyler Strom- Farm Illinois


Precision Agriculture Landscape

Session Leader: Andrew Selck, Ernst & Young

Connected Farm: Julian Sanchez, John Deere 

Data Modernizing Agronomy: Chris Harbourt, Agrible 

Agriculture Drones: Jack Marck, Horizon Precision

Smart-IT Systems Revolutionizing Agriculture: Jason Bull, Monsanto 

Farm Operations Management Systems: Bborie Park, Granular


Moderated Discussion

Precision Agriculture: what are the opportunities?




10:30-10:45 am

Future of Food

Session Leader: Roger Vanhoy - UIUC Corporate Relations

Food Traceability: Jeffrey Castillo, Barilla

Functional Foods: Keith Garleb, Abbott Nutrition

Animal Health: Aaron Gilbertie, Aptimmune Biologics

Food Products & Incubation: Tony Caccomo, National Foodworks Services


Moderated Discussion

Future food chain opportunities


Lunch Buffet



Lunch Talk + Q&A

From academic life to food entrepreneurs: Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery


12:30-1:00 pm




Entrepreneurial Resources

University of Illinois resources available to help support agtech entrepreneurs:

Session Leader: John Quarton

NSF I-Corps Site & Ag Node, Jed Taylor

TEC Student Programs, Stephanie Larson

OTM Tech Transfer, Lesley Millar-Nicholson

EnterpriseWorks and AWARE, Laura Bleill


Entrepreneurship Success Stories

The entrepreneurial journey, inspiration of what is possible. 

Session Leader: Laura Frerichs, Research Park

Harlee Sorkin, Traco Labs

Paul Miller, Agrible

Dr. Federico Zuckermann, Aptimmune Biologics

Shawn Carlson, Former Chromatin

Tyler Leman, Intelinair

1:40-2:15 pm


What are investors seeking in agriculture?

Rob Schultz, Serra Capital

Tom Adamitis, Yield Lab

Ron Meeusen, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures

Vahid Aidun, Dow Ventures

Michael Frerichs, Illinois State Treasurer

2:20-2:55 pm

Wrap Up & Closing Remarks





This event was co-hosted by the College of ACES, the University of Illinois Research Park, and the Office of Corporate Relations at the University of Illinois.