Two Minnesota Companies Gear Up for Food-Focused Hackathon
Finnegans' Taproom. The upcoming Foundry and Conservis hackathon will be hosted and Finnegans Brew Co in Minneapolis. (Photo from Finnegans website).

Two Minnesota Companies Gear Up for Food-Focused Hackathon

Digital agency Foundry and agriculture company Conservis have announced plans to launch Affect the Cause, a two-day competition aimed at developing solutions for food and agriculture problems.

Minneapolis web development agency Foundry has teamed up with Minneapolis agricultural services company Conservis to launch a food-focused hackathon. Dubbed Affect the Cause, the event takes aim at today’s food and ag problems, such as food supply.

“There’s tremendous opportunity for innovation within all areas of our industry right now,” said Joel Coppin, VP of product development at Conservis. “Participants will have an opportunity to apply the latest advancements in computer science to everything from improving farm efficiency to reducing food waste.”

On August 8-9, designers from both companies will form 10 teams to face off in the competition. However, instead of teams being assigned, designated team leaders will present an idea to participants, and teams are expected to form organically around each idea.

The concept of “natural collaboration” fosters more creativity and provides a better “out-of-office experience,” said Nils Hansen, principal, creative for Foundry. In the past, Foundry and Conservis have partnered on ag-tech solutions for farmers.

“A hackathon environment lets us experiment in creating prototypes to see what we might make of our ideas,” said Hansen. “Limited only by imagination – so, hardly – these designers and makers are welcome to consider tech platforms ranging from IoT, open data, robotics, automation, AI, and whatever’s next.”

Affect the Cause will be hosted by Finnegans, a Minneapolis nonprofit brewpub which donates all of its profits to charity. (The brewery recently launched its own entrepreneurialism-fostering endeavor, known as the Finnovation Lab.)

The event kicks off Thursday with a keynote address from Brett Brohl, managing director of agricultural business accelerator Techstars Farm to Fork. It will wrap with a demo of each team’s design prototypes at 3 p.m. Friday.