Red Wing, MN (Dec 7, 2018) — Ignite Minnesota, a program of Red Wing Ignite was chosen as by US Ignite to be the statewide hub in developing and deploying new technologies.  Red Wing is the first and only non-metropolitan region involved in this National effort and the designated organization supporting agriculture technology.

Executive Director Neela Mollgaard and the Ignite Minnesota Steering Committee are pleased to announce three finalists from Minnesota who will advance to phase 2 in the Ag Tech Challenge.  This is a two-phased challenge in which competitors submit proposals to develop and demonstrate innovative solutions in the areas of agriculture technology using hardware, software and/or data.

The Ag Tech Challenge was officially launched on October 8, 2018, during the Food Ag Idea Week. Ignite Minnesota partnered with AURI and Grow North to host this informative panel.   Ignite Minnesota had a panel of experts representing: Cargill, Syngneta Ventures, US Ignite, Rover Robotics, Deepgreen, Aker Technologies and AURI.

 The Ignite Minnesota Ag Tech event attracted 50+ innovators and received many quality submissions.  The judges chosen to select the semi-finalist were from US Ignite, Winona State University, Syngenta Venture and Greenseam.

The two semi-finalists selected to receive $2,500 to advance their concepts and build prototypes of their proposed solutions are:

  • Nick Fragale with Poultry Patrol – A semi-autonomous robotic system to assist in poultry farm tasks like detecting dead birds, training birds to lay eggs in the correct place, disinfecting feces, turning soil, retrieving eggs, and giving the grower an inside camera view wherever they are.
  • Ruben D’Sa with Tile Drainage Monitoring and Control – The goal of the project is to significantly reduce sediment and nutrient runoff from agricultural fields by implementing a monitoring and control system that can respond in real time to rain and soil conditions.

The judges also wanted to include Robotic Sod Farm Weeder in the final pitch event.

  • Mark Swanson with Robotic Sod Farm Weeder Robotic weed pickers can be used to reduce/eliminate herbicide use on farms.  Sod farms provide an easy landscape for robotic weed picker deployments.

The three finalists will now advance their concepts for a chance to receive up to $10,000 in cash award funds in front of judges, investors, regional leaders and the general public 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at Red Wing Ignite, 419 Bush Street, Red Wing, MN  55066.

 In addition to the cash award funds, finalists will receive other in-kind benefits and mentoring.  The award funding for the Ag Tech Challenge is made available through Ignite Minnesota’s partnership with US Ignite and the National Science Foundation, the Smart Gigabit Communities program.

“Ignite Minnesota is developing a model that supports innovative ecosystems in rural areas focused on talent pipeline, entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Neela Mollgard, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite and Community Leader for this statewide initiative. “The promise is for new technologies to be created that benefit agriculture, advanced manufacturing, education, healthcare and other industries that are central to rural America.”