Virtual Food, Ag, Ideas Week Focuses on Minority Entrepreneurs

Virtual Food, Ag, Ideas Week Focuses on Minority Entrepreneurs

The third annual conference, Dec. 3-10, aims to create big opportunities for small food and ag businesses.

Despite having to go virtual with the conference kicking off Thursday, Food, Ag, Ideas Week is beefing up its agenda with special focus on minority entrepreneurs, support for small companies, and a focus on innovations within Minnesota’s largest food manufacturers.

The annual conference, Dec. 3-10, is put on by Grow North, a University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management accelerator program designed to fuel ag innovation with the support of General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Schwan’s and other corporations.

The conference will open Thursday with a 9 a.m. keynote address on innovation and trade featuring Ariel Delouya, the Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis, and Mary Ng, Canada’s minister of small business, export promotion and international trade.

Newly structured this year, the conference includes three “track days” focused on food systems, agriculture and consumer packaged goods (CPG). There will be 4-5 sessions, panels, and speakers, as well as participation from MBOLD, a new coalition of researchers, food and agriculture producers working on global solutions to the most pressing challenges around food insecurity and climate change.

This year’s new events include:

  • Ag Roundtable: A conversation about how to advance connectivity and markets from farm to CPG.
    Minority Trade Show: Sponsored by Target, this showcase features entrepreneurs of color and female entrepreneurs pitching to buyers from across the region. The goal is to directly connect budding entrepreneurs to major buyers, an uncommon opportunity–especially for people from underserved communities.
  • MBOLD Interview Series: Ecolab, General Mills, and Land O’Lakes share their recent innovations related to food, agriculture, and CPG.
  • Product Boxes: Local entrepreneurs and chefs gain exposure by sharing products, recipes, and tips in product boxes assembled by You Betcha! Box. Choose from two themes: BIPOC Makers of Minnesota and The Big Sipper! Minnesota Happy Hour Kit. Both are available for public purchase online (whether you attend the event or not).

“This showcase will give the entrepreneurs and chefs a voice, especially in this time where restaurants are all now just back to take-out,” said Grow North executive director Allison Hohn.

The conference is open to the public. An all-access pass is $99, but select events are free. View the entire week’s agenda.