AgTech NEXT 2022 Leveraging Technology, Trade and Talent to Reinvent a Food System in Crisis

2022 Reinventing a Food System in Crisis

ST. LOUIS, MO, September 19, 2022 – War, geopolitical pressures, devastating climate disasters, and the highest inflation the U.S. has experienced in 40 years is causing enormous strain on supply chains, consumers and our global food system. AgTech NEXT 2022 hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will examine these pressing issues and delve into how technology, talent and trade can be leveraged to secure a better food system for the future.

“While bringing game-changing technology to market is certainly the Danforth Center’s sweet spot as it relates to the future of food, we feel it’s imperative to have a holistic conversation about the challenges we are facing and, most importantly, the opportunity we have to reinvent and reimagine our global food system,” said Stephanie Regagnon, executive director of innovation partnerships at the Danforth Center. “To be successful, that will require innovations in technology, a more diverse talent pipeline and a more equitable trade system.”  

Register today and reserve your spot.

The AgTech NEXT lineup of keynotes, spotlight presentations and panels is designed to share insights that will engage, inspire and catalyze action between innovators, investors, industry leaders and producers who are shaping the future of food. Numerous networking opportunities are built into the schedule to allow attendees to connect. 

The event kicks off Oct. 11 with an opening reception at the new headquarters of Benson Hill at EDGE@BRDG on the Danforth Center campus. Optional tours of the state-of-the-art facility will be offered that evening. 

Creatively curated sessions during the next two days of the event will be divided into themes: A call for creative capital, Pursuing equity and efficacy in trade policy, Inclusion and intentionality in building an innovation talent pipeline and Technology: radical collaboration required. 

On Oct. 12, Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner at DBL Partners, will kick off the conference with a keynote address on impact capital, patient, long-term capital that doesn't require a quick return. Pfund says DBL Partners, whose portfolio includes Tesla and foodtech unicorn Apeel, calls it "double bottom line capital." The Finance session will also include a spotlight on a unique partnership between startup CoverCress, and industry leaders Bayer CropScience, Bunge and Chevron, followed by a panel focused on how the agtech community can generate more impact investing, 

The Talent session will include keynote remarks by long-time leader in international agriculture development Julie Borlag, who will share her perspective on how we can better develop talent in agrifood tech. The new Jackie Joyner- Kersee Food and Agriculture Nutrition Innovation Center founded by the four-time Olympian, will be the focus of the spotlight session. 

The program will dig into the issue of trade and market developments leading with a keynote address by Sharon Sydow a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist, USDA.  Wednesday’s agenda will conclude with a discussion about ways technological and social innovations can be leveraged to improve global agriculture trade systems, which are vulnerable to emerging risks and limited by historical inequities featuring industry and academic leaders of Bayer CropScience, Pivot Bio, CoBank and the Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska. 

On Oct. 13, the focus will shift to technology.  2022 World Food Prize Laureate, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and co-located Columbia University Earth Institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research, will give the keynote followed by sessions spotlighting innovative technologies and scientists and panelists from the Taylor Geospatial Institute, Impossible Sensing and the Danforth Center.

The region is considered by many to be the nation’s heart of agriculture innovation, leading the development of new tools and strategies that could be applied around the world, and is well positioned to host such an important gathering. 

Roughly half of all U.S. agriculture is produced within a 500 mile radius of St. Louis including 80% of corn and soybeans. It is home to 39 North, more than 1,000 plant science Ph.D.s and leading companies across the agrifood tech value chain, including Bayer CropScience, Benson Hill, CoverCress, Bunge and Post Holdings. Numerous early and mid-stage startups, the U.S. headquarters of international companies, The Yield Lab, the St. Louis Community College Center for Plant and Life Science lab technician training program located at BRDG Park and the Helix Center Incubator are also located in the 600 acre innovation district.

St. Louis’ growing geospatial cluster, led by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency West, has joined the effort and is intentionally increasing collaboration between the two sectors to develop precision ag tools that will enable farmers to better understand and more efficiently measure components like soil health, nutrient availability and water-use efficiency of crops in their fields. Carbon farming is another area where geospatial technology can help farmers verify the carbon they are claiming in order to access credits and garner new revenue from organizations that want to offset.

“Today, we’re accelerating our commitment to agrifood tech and innovation by applying our regional strength in location science, GIS, smart devices, remote imaging and sensing, AI and machine learning to accelerate the pace of innovations that make the agrifood industry more secure, agile and sustainable from farm to fork,” Regagnon said.

The first two years of AgTech NEXT were held virtually due to the pandemic and attracted an impressive global following. To engage with those who can’t make it to the in-person event this year, AgTech NEXT will offer a free online option to view keynotes and panels.  

NOTE: A limited number of complimentary tickets for the media are available, please contact Karla Roeber to reserve your spot and experience our ecosystem! 

For more information contact:
Danforth Plant Science Center, Karla Roeber,, 314.587.1231.