The West Lafayette-based Wabash Heartland Innovation Network is growing outside its 10-county home as it expands agricultural innovation, research and technology to southwest Indiana. WHIN has entered a partnership with Pantheon, a business incubator located in Vincennes. Officials hope to develop the area as a living laboratory for agriculture-related technology, similar to what WHIN is doing in northern Indiana.
“During a brainstorming session we asked, ‘What’s life after 10 counties and how can we expand beyond the 10 counties,’” said Greg Ottinger, WHIN’s vice president of strategic partnerships on the latest episode of the Ag+Bio+Science Podcast presented by AgriNovus Indiana.
That’s when WHIN Chief Executive Officer Johnny Park approached Pantheon leadership. The incubator already had an ag technology committee, so partnering with WHIN seemed like a natural fit, said Ottinger.
Knox County in southwest Indiana has more specialty crop growers, such as melons and fresh vegetables, than any other area of the state. Ottinger says those producers are always looking for creative and innovative ways to solve problems on the farm. “They’re typically progressive and willing to step up and try things quickly,” Ottinger told Inside INdiana Business and podcast host Gerry Dick. “We’re excited about meeting with the farmers and sharing technology that we’ve already vetted.”
The partnership with Pantheon is WHIN’s first exploration of other regions of the Hoosier State, but Ottinger hints it will not be the last. “Indiana is a huge agriculturally-aligned state. And I’m just excited to expose these technologies that we’re already working with and the future technologies that we’ll find and vet and bring on board into our WHIN model,” said Ottinger. “I’m just excited about expanding those to all farmers in the entire state.”