AgTech Innovation Summit 2017 - Investor Panel


Laura Frerichs, University of Illinois Research Park

Laura’s tasks include managing startup company services at EnterpriseWorks technology incubator and
marketing the Research Park. As the Director of Economic Development for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she also supports the University’s economic development efforts. Laura has developed innovative entrepreneur support programs and attracted many new company engagements to the


Rob Schultz, Serra Ventures

Rob is a seasoned business executive with over 25 years of experience as a consultant, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Serra Ventures has been an active investor in the AgTech space, with investments in companies such as Agrible, Label Insight, Plantlink and HerdDogg.

Tom Parkinson, Illinois Ventures

Before joining IllinoisVENTURES, Tom was a partner with Woodland Venture Management. He also managed a Northwestern University seed capital fund and has taught courses in entrepreneurship and venture finance at Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dave Russell, Lewis and Clark Ventures

Prior to joining Lewis & Clark, David led Monsanto’s Biotechnology Prospecting Team. David also helped lead
the development of feed and processing traits of the Renessen JV. After completing his Ph.D., David did a NSF
Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University.

Justin Strausbaugh, CME Ventures

CME Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of CME Group, focusing on the sourcing, execution and management of investments in the technology space. Prior to CME, Justin co-founded an online research company and was a derivatives trader for several proprietary trading firms. Justin also spent several years after college as a professional golfer.

Ron Meeusen, Cultivian Sandbox Venture Partners

Ron, a Ph.D. plant physiologist who spent 25 years in corporate R&D in the crop protection and seeds industry, left Dow AgroSciences in 2008 to form one of the first private venture capital funds focused solely on food and agriculture – Cultivian Sandbox Ventures.