DAY ONE: From 20+ Ideas to 4 Distinct Research Proposals
On day one, after each participant pitched a research topic related to the future of the farm, the group voted down twenty or more ideas until only four remained. From there, teams self-selected into four distinct research groups based on where they determined their expertise, or personal interest, might lend the most assistance.
Once groups were filtered out into their groups, a two-hour collaborative research session ensued. White boards quickly filled up with doodles and diagrams as teams worked quickly to find a common solution and a common language with which to formulate a research proposal they would be pitching in less than 24 hours before an esteemed panel of judges.
Before the end of the first day, mentors Dr. Christine Strohm, a grant-writing consultant from NDSU’s College of Engineering, and David Ripplinger, a professor of bio-energy and bio-products economics at NDSU, challenged the research group’s proposals, testing their feasibility and identifying potential funding sources.
DAY TWO: Refining Proposals & Pitch Competition
By the second day, teams only had a few hours to distill their research idea down into a five-minute pitch. With pitch guidance provided by Kate Tulibaski, an academic advisor and lecturer at NDSU’s College of Business, and Cortnee Jensen, from the North Dakota Department of Commerce, teams put the final touches on their slide decks and presentations before meeting their judging panel at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.A lively venue awaited participants, as colleagues, family, and community members enjoyed appetizers and drinks before the pitches were underway. Brian Carroll, director of operations at The Grand Farm — an initiative that aims to capitalize on the region’s potential in the agriculture and technology industries — opened the evening by sharing an inspired vision of the farm of the future. He, and the judges, were eager to learn what the researchers had to share.