This week, Indianapolis will again play host to some 70,000 attendees for the National FFA Convention & Expo. Since its early days, the FFA has evolved to integrate all aspects of modern agriculture, including the agbiosciences and AgriNovus Indiana will continue to play a key role in the convention as part of its partnership with Microsoft. AgriNovus Chief Executive Officer Beth Bechdol says the Blue Room, in its second year, serves as an "innovation pavilion" inside the Indiana Convention Center.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Bechdol said the Blue Room features a variety of ag companies displaying their technologies and innovations.
"Last year, we focused on innovation for innovation’s sake and really tried to get these young students from all across the country to really appreciate the depth of technology," said Bechdol. "This year’s focus in the room is really going to start to pivot to the jobs of the future."
Bechdol says one of the main goals is to showcase the variety of jobs that are available within the agriculture sector.
"The skill sets that many of these agbioscience employers are looking for today and going forward are changing pretty rapidly and today, more than ever, they need students who are steeped in data science, in informatics, in the STEM skill sets and disciplines that we know that even other industries like tech or life sciences or advanced industries are also competing for. But there’s this real opportunity for a lot of these students who’ve never thought about a job in food and agriculture because they’re not tied to a farm (and) they don’t live in a rural community to realize just how tech-intensive and how innovative and kind of how cool these opportunities for them in a longer-term professional setting would be."
Bechdol says today, Indiana has 75,000 agbioscience jobs with an expected continued increase not only in the number of jobs, but also average salaries.
AgriNovus is also partnering with gBETA Indy to create a dedicated agbioscience accelerator cohort in Indiana. Five early-stage companies are taking part in the cohort, which will give them mentorship and networking opportunities. A pitch night involving the companies will take place November 19.
The 92nd annual National FFA Convention & Expo runs Wednesday through Saturday in downtown Indy.