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Monsanto opens University of Illinois Innovation Center


Monsanto and The Climate Corporation have recently opened the doors to a new Innovation Center at the University of Illinois Research Park. The Center will use digital tools and data to drive agricultural innovations which increase efficiency and reduce the amount of water, land, and energy necessary to meet the world’s food, fuel, and fiber needs.

“At Monsanto, we are a company built on innovation. We believe connecting new talent and ideas accelerates the discovery needed to feed and sustain our world,” said Mike Graham, vice president of Global Plant Breeding. “The Monsanto Innovation Center will cultivate future scientists who have the opportunity to shape how data science is applied to modern agriculture.”

When fully staffed, the Monsanto Innovation Center will employ more than two dozen students who will enhance and augment a robust agricultural innovation portfolio with additional enabling capabilities like IT, data science, and engineering. Students will focus on cutting-edge, real-world, social, scientific challenges in areas like advanced analytics, operations research, phenomics, genomics, plant science, and precision breeding technologies. The center will employ students who are studying disciplines such as electrical engineering, UX design, mechanical engineering, software engineering, and imaging sensor science.

“Continued advancement of research and educational programs at leading universities is essential to the future success of modern agriculture. Additionally, it’s critical we support the training and development of the next generation so they can apply their education and implement new technologies to help solve agricultural challenges,” said Sam Eathington, chief science officer at The Climate Corporation. “It’s for this reason we have invested in the new innovation center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to help deliver on this promise.”

The Center has hired both graduate and undergraduate students from across campus, representing at least four different colleges and multiple disciplines. It is focused on fostering a collaborative, entrepreneurial, and solution-based framework where students will engage with innovative projects designed to help facilitate professional development.

“The Monsanto Innovation Center at Research Park represents the next frontier of a relationship that spans decades,” said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor Robert J. Jones. “Tapping into the talent base of our students is a win-win. For them, getting to address some of the complex problems facing society is part of the fabric of what it means to get an Illinois education.”

The Center opens with seven highly-skilled student interns. It will continue to recruit top University talent to fill roles as additional projects come to fruition.

“Monsanto and the University of Illinois have deep ties thanks to a long-lasting, strong relationship. We anticipate that will only continue thanks to this unique opportunity to grow a footprint directly on campus in the Research Park,” said Blake Giles, site director of the new Monsanto Innovation Center.

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