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UT Martin agricultural student teams to compete for $215,000


Contact 1: Joe Lofaro


Howard G. Buffet Foundation Sponsoring National Ag Innovation Prize

MARTIN – Three University of Tennessee at Martin student teams are developing innovative agricultural solutions to global problems to submit to the national Agricultural Innovation Prize being funded by Howard G. Buffet Foundation and organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The three teams are comprised of the following students: Taylor Brinkly, Brette Akridge, Ashley Dugan, Taylor Townsend, James von Dollen, Kiah Ewer, Brittany Blackburn, Devin Sabaski, Jeff Rogers, Shawn Butler, Daniel Wiggins and Austin Scott. The students will compete nationally for the chance to receive up to $100,000 in funding to commercialize their concept. There is a total of $215,000 in funding available, making this the largest agriculture-focused student competition in the world.

The three teams were selected at a contest held in December on UT Martin’s campus based on the merits of their concept to help improve global agriculture’s ability to feed a growing population. The teams will be coached through the application process by the NextFarm Agricultural Innovation Accelerator and the UT Martin College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

“This is a great opportunity to build a spirit of entrepreneurism in our student body,” said Dr. Todd Winters, Dean of the UTM College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

One of the teams will also be chosen to present at the NextFarm Demo Day on Feb. 6 in Union City, alongside startup companies from across Tennessee that have participated in the NextFarm Accelerator process. This will be an invaluable experience for all of the teams.

NextFarm Agricultural Innovation Accelerator is a project of Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center, Memphis Bioworks Foundation and Ag Innovation Development Group. The goal of NextFarm is to help start and grow new agricultural businesses in Tennessee.

“We are proud of our partnership with UT Martin and in particular the development of the student teams to compete for the Ag Innovation Prize,” said Carol Reed, Director of the Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center.

“In the future we expect many more innovative ideas to be developed at UTM that will help our farmers and feed a growing population.”


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