Syngenta Opens University of Illinois Digital Innovation Lab

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Today (May 16), Syngenta celebrated the grand opening of its new Digital Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois Research Park. Bringing together the resources of a global agribusiness, the intellectual capital of a major research institution and the business mentality of a tech start-up, the Digital Innovation Lab represents the first of three planned sites in Syngenta’s global network.

“We are excited to embark on this chapter in our digital ag journey,” says Dan Burdett, global head of digital agriculture at Syngenta. “The Syngenta Digital Innovation Lab supports an excellent opportunity to collaborate with dynamic students and researchers from a diverse cross-section of disciplines.”

Designed as a forum for students in computer science, biology, physical sciences and other related subjects to apply their specialized expertise, the Digital Innovation Lab is expected  to address some of agriculture’s most pressing challenges, according to the company. Data analytics, cloud technology, mobile applications and smart farm technology are among the platforms students will use to explore and test disruptive ideas in pursuit of solutions to complex issues.

Establishing the Syngenta Digital Innovation Lab builds on an existing industry relationship with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, a collaboration that has yielded notable success for the Syngenta plant breeding program.

“The NCSA’s specialized expertise in high-performance modeling, simulation and Big Data has helped deliver on some of our key business challenges,” says Bill Danker, domain head of seeds research and breeding at Syngenta. “For example, collaborating with the NCSA has resulted in the development of an improved predictive algorithm to compute genetic allele data sets with greater scope and speed.”

Syngenta recently appointed Brandon Dohman as full-time site director of the Syngenta Digital Innovation Lab, with plans to recruit additional professional staff members and student talent.

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