Heuermann Lecture Panel Touts Nebraska’s Ag Tech Strength

Woman stands in front of panel sitting on stage
Jordyn Bader discusses her work with the ag-tech startup Marble Technologies during the Heuermann Lecture on May 29. She was part of a panel of ag-tech entrepreneurs that also included (from left) Shane Forney of Sentinel Fertigation; Chad Johnson of Grain Weevil; Jacob Hansen of ALA Engineering; and Jessica Korinek of Nave Analytics. (Photo by Cara Pesek, IANR Media)

Heuermann Lecture Panel Touts Nebraska’s Ag Tech Strength

Advanced ag technology has gained important momentum in recent years, and Nebraska is playing a key leadership role. A panel of entrepreneurs and business analysts spoke in detail on that theme during a May 29 symposium at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

The presentations and discussions, part of the Heuermann Lecture series, described Nebraska’s strengths in ag tech, including the state’s diversity of startups, increase in ag-focused venture capital, and large-scale strategic investments enabling research innovations and commercialization.

“One of the key factors for our company’s success is being in the heartland of agriculture,” said Jordyn Bader, director of industry partnerships for Marble Technologies, a Lincoln-based ag tech firm. “There is truly no better place in this country to be an entrepreneur and scientist who wants to contribute to the food and ag innovation space.”

Ambitious forays in ag tech development earlier this century did not pan out in part because they were led by coastal-based corporations that lacked deep understanding of agriculture, said Mike Jung, co-founder and managing partner of Grit Road Partners, an Omaha-based company that provides investment support for ag-tech entrepreneurs in the Midwest. That history shows that a solid understanding of agriculture is imperative for successful ag tech ventures, and Nebraska’s agricultural expertise gives it a major advantage, panelists said.

A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report pointed to another strength for Nebraska — the state ranks second in the nation in the use of precision ag technology, said Josh DeMers, program manager of The Combine, which provides supports for Nebraska food- and ag-focused startups.

Since 2019, The Combine has raised $15.5 million, received $5.7 million in grants and helped 28 companies. Several of the startups on the discussion panel received early-stage support from The Combine’s business incubator at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

The panel’s membership illustrated the breadth of innovation and business visioning in Nebraska’s ag tech ecosystem.

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