AGCO Acceleration Center
It’s been two years since the AGCO Acceleration Center opened its doors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Since the beginning, the Acceleration Center has partnered with local companies, empowered interns, and is becoming a hub for innovation in the Research Park.
AGCO Acceleration CenterIt’s been two years since the AGCO Acceleration Center opened its doors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Since the beginning, the Acceleration Center has partnered with local companies, empowered interns, and is becoming a hub for innovation in the Research Park.
More than we could have imagined
August marks the second anniversary of the AGCO Acceleration Center (AAC) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Research Park. The AAC was initially opened to serve three purposes:
- Help recruit students that will be our next generation of AGCO leaders
- Utilize the expertise of the University of Illinois faculty in agricultural and computer science engineering design
- Share an ecosystem with entrepreneurs who are developing the new technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the ever-changing agriculture industry
Since we first opened our doors, we have been able to build and expand the scope of the AAC in ways we never could have imagined.
We couldn’t have imagined the diverse and amazing student talent at UIUC
What we have learned over the past two years is that the University of Illinois provides a unique combination of historically strong agricultural sciences programs with a top five globally ranked computer science program. We have tapped both of these programs to find interns for the Acceleration Center that have tackled many critical business growth areas including Augmented & Mixed Reality, process automation, advanced engineering projects, production planning data analysis and developing new web tools for our dealers. Our interns have also completed projects in the analysis of the global rice and meatless meat markets, marketing for our technology division, Fuse, and User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design projects. By utilizing the diverse and unique skills of the student interns at the AAC, we were able to complete business critical projects much faster and at higher quality than we could have imagined, as well as being more efficient with AGCO resources.
We have also learned that using interns to support staff through a centralized location has produced high potential for full-time recruitment and an ongoing pipeline of talented individuals who have the potential to be dynamic full-time AGCO employees. In the past two years, we have already converted four interns into full-time AGCO employees. Our first three conversions were additions to the Grain and Protein teams located in Illinois. In July, Haricharan Vittal was converted to a full-time employee as a Demand Planning Specialist, now working out of our headquarters in Duluth, Georgia. Haricharan’s story demonstrates the enormous value of investing in a university research park office. Haricharan was first introduced to AGCO through a student project led by the University of Illinois, then moved to his intern role as a Sales, Inventory and Operation Planning (SIOP) Business Analyst from January 2019 to June 2019, and finally found his forever home within the company at our headquarters. We would have never imagined that the AGCO Acceleration Center would expose us to such a large pool of talented students and that we would be able to utilize multiple engagement tools to add them to our AGCO teams full-time.
We couldn’t have imagined the technology resources available at UIUC
Being adjacent to one of the best engineering colleges in the country provides AGCO with an enormous advantage. The center is a funnel for early awareness of technology and research trends and innovations through access to cutting edge faculty and students. Being a part of the Research Park community provides us advanced opportunities to partner with university faculty on emerging smart farming technology research such as robotics, automation and data analytics. We are also able to assist with research on advancements in livestock and crop production and capital investment projects that support ongoing agricultural research. We could have never imagined the diversity, scope and quality of the research going on at UIUC. We are only beginning to imagine how we can leverage and translate this world-class research into solutions for farmers feeding the world.
We couldn’t have imagined the ag tech ecosystem that exists at UIUC
While we knew that UIUC has students and faculty, we were unaware of the ag tech ecosystem that lives at UIUC Research Park. As one of the oldest research parks in the United States, UIUC Research Park has created a unique culture that fosters innovation in ag technologies from well established companies like Bayer and Syngenta® along with new startups such as Granular and others. It also has well established organizations that sponsor monthly AgTech Breakfasts, the Agriculture Technology Innovation Summit, the Ag Data Summit, and many other unique but research park exclusive networking and recruitment opportunities. We never imagined how many thought leaders in precision agriculture, big and small, would be located at the UIUC Research Park.
What can we imagine for the next two years?
Over the next two years the AGCO Acceleration Center is focused on moving from start-up phase to growth phase, with a laser focus on creating larger impacts on the company’s bottom line. In this growth phase, we will expand and diversify our talent pipeline so we can attract and keep the highest skilled students working to feed the world. We will continue to digitize our business tools and processes to provide better experiences for all of our customers, and continue exploring augmented reality and other emerging technologies that will help us develop and provide our next generation of high-tech solutions for farmers feeding the world. Finally, we will expand our relationships with faculty and the surrounding ag tech ecosystem to partner on new cutting edge areas of research that will generate innovations in agriculture that we never could have imagined two years ago.
We invite all of you to contact and visit the AGCO Acceleration Center and help us imagine what is possible.
Written by: Misha Shah & Lance Brown
Misha Shah is the site manager at the AGCO Acceleration Center in Champaign, IL. Connect with Misha on LinkedIn. Lance Brown is global learning and development director for AGCO’s Grain and Protein brands. Connect with Lance on LinkedIn.