A group project led by NDSU has reached the final round of a competition that could bring $160 million over 10 years.
The regional collaborative partnership known as FARMS (Northern Plains AgTech Engine for Food systems Adapted for Resiliency and Maximized Security) has reached the final stage of a nationwide competition that will provide winning teams with $160 million funding over 10 years. FARMS is one of sixteen projects selected as finalists.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Engines program aims to empower all regions of the country, including the Midwest, to capitalize on their strengths. A multi-faceted program, FARMS seeks to build upon North Dakota’s reputation as a leader in AgTech and will deliver market-driven innovative research, education, workforce development, and DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) programs.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum commented on the potential of the project. “The FARMS project epitomizes the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that characterizes our state, especially when it comes to agriculture,” he said. “From our researchers to our entrepreneurs, the people of North Dakota continue to drive solutions that have a major impact on the challenges facing our world. We’re grateful to everyone involved with FARMS and wish the team all the best as they showcase North Dakota’s leadership in ag technology and food production.”
FARMS will solve issues related to food security and global food challenges with AgTech solutions. AgTech represents all technology used for improving yield, efficiency, and profitability in agriculture. Crucial to the commercialization process is the NDSU Research Foundation, which was most recently ranked in the 2022 Heartland Forward report at sixth (normalized) in terms of licenses and options issued and 117th overall and NDSU Extension, which has a presence in all fifty-three counties in North Dakota.
FARMS will drive AgTech research in areas such as developing new varieties of resilient crops along with the sensor systems required to maintain their optimal growing conditions. Additional research will implement cost-effective data collection that effectively integrates sensors distributed across all acres of a farm operation, laying vital groundwork for the smart and connected farms of the future.
As North Dakota is home to five sovereign tribal nations and the nation’s only tribal college system, the five college North Dakota Tribal College System, FARMS aims to develop cross-cultural relationships in order to strengthen our collective ability to advance nation to nation ethical research collaborations.
With workforce issues top of mind nationally, it is critical for FARMS to enhance pathways into STEM for homegrown talent while becoming a magnet to attract expertise from across the world. This starts with an inventory of the state’s many distinct private, non-profit and educational organizations and their programming in the AgTech space, ultimately connecting them through the AgTech Knowledge Network.
Important AgTech workforce development will come from programming funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Good Job Challenge recently awarded to the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation in Fargo.
“Agriculture is something we already know well in North Dakota,” said NDSU Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Colleen Fitzgerald. “A recent economic impact study shows that agriculture contributes $31 billion to the North Dakota economy and more than 110,000 jobs. FARMS will accelerate this ecosystem over the next decade making North Dakota THE undisputed national leader in AgTech.”
The vision of FARMS is to create a global AgTech engine characterized by a flourishing ecosystem where new knowledge is co-designed into new technologies, services, and startups to address stressors impacting food insecurity and to establish equitable agricultural opportunity. Led by NDSU, FARMS is composed of a core group of partners including Grand Farm, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation, and the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. The FARMS ecosystem includes the North Dakota Tribal College System, the North Dakota Tribal communities, North Dakota universities and colleges, industry, non-profits, and other regional research universities.
The National Science Foundation in partnership with other Federal agencies is managing this competition. Of an initial pool of 188 projects spanning all key technology areas and societal and economic challenges highlighted in the CHIPS and Science Act, only 16 projects have been selected as finalists. FARMS is the only agriculture-based project among the finalists.
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