Looking closer at the  groundbreaking $15 Million Award to North Dakotan Coalition

As most of you might have heard, on Jan. 29, the U.S. National Science Foundation(NSF) announced the first-ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines (simply called NSF Engines), an ambitious plan that awards to 10 research institutions/organizations throughout the country. In a visit to North Carolina, NSF Director, Sethuraman Panchanathan said that “these engines are part of the NSF’s commitment to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation anywhere”.

According to NSF, each of these engines will initially receive $15 million for the first two years of the project. Private sector partners, NSF says, have contributed some $365 million for the initial part of this key investment. 

In 1979, the National Science Foundation created the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in response to concern over the uneven distribution of federal research and development grants. However, statistics show that this imbalance still exists. 

There are two interesting facts in this groundbreaking plan; first, apart from NDSU, there is only one more NSF engine in the Midwest region, namely “Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine” (a joint engine from Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin). Secondly, only two states, North Dakota and Louisiana, are home to institutions that lead an engine.

These NSF Engines represent one of the single largest broad investments in place-based research and development in history at a national level, prioritizing science and technology as the main driver to spur regional economic competitiveness.

During a short Youtube video, NDSU president Cook, and Colleen Fitzgerald, vice president for research and creative activity, elaborated on the award and the collective effort to further expand Agricultural Technology(AgTech) innovations and opportunities for the community, North Dakota and the region.

According to Fitzgerald, FARM consists of five core partners including Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber, Grand Farm (a startup initiative that is building an innovation campus west of Casselton), North Dakota Tribal College System and NDSU.

This remarkable achievement has undoubtedly been an outcome of the collective tireless efforts of all contributing partners to FARM and has not been reached overnight. There is a long journey ahead for the state’s AgTech, crops and food sources. This also has spurred huge optimism among the community and researchers and every student at NDSU is more than welcome to propose their invaluable ideas to enhance food security and sustainability statewide and beyond.

North Dakota holds the aces in agriculture sector, thanks to its amazing ecosystem and valuable human assets, researchers and entrepreneurs.  Over 90% of the state is ranchlands and farms, agriculture has been the largest segment of its economy, accounting for one in every four employment in North Dakota.

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