Great Lakes Ag Tech Summit

Events Industry News

Whether you are a greenhouse grower or a vertical farmer, you won’t want to miss this.

Join Urban Ag News, Hort Americas and Current, powered by GE, for the inaugural Great Lakes Ag Tech Summit on Monday, September 23. The summit will be held at at the historic Nela Park campus in Cleveland, Ohio.

The one-day event features keynote presentations and panel discussions from leading researchers and innovative growers in the Great Lakes region. Attendees will be able to connect with growers, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs as we shape the future of food and move controlled environment agriculture forward.

Due to the fact that Nela Park is a secure facility, we cannot register guests the day of the event.
Registration will close on Thursday, September 19


Achieving Best-in-Class Economics for a Commercial Vertical Farm

Austin Webb, CEO and co-founder of mega-vertical farm Fifth Season (formerly RoBotany)

Austin Webb is the CEO and co-founder of Fifth Season (powered by RoBotany), a robotic indoor vertical farming company based in Pittsburgh. Austin holds a BA in Finance from Wofford College and an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie. Austin served as an Investment Banking Associate for FBR Capital Markets, where he caught the entrepreneurial fever. Austin originally hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but plans on keeping roots in Pittsburgh to achieve Fifth Season’s mission.

Fifth Season (powered by RoBotany) is a robotics and AI company with Carnegie Mellon University roots that builds and operates highly efficient commercial-scale vertical farms in urban communities. Fifth Season’s newest commercial-scale farm will open in early 2020 in Braddock, an historic steelmaking community in Pittsburgh, continuing the city’s legacy of industry-defining innovation. Fifth Season’s proprietary robotics and artificial intelligence technology profitably grows leafy greens and herbs for local grocery retailers, restaurants and consumers at unprecedented low costs, all year-round. The company designed its modular farms for simple, quick installation and is currently siting locations for similar farms in cities throughout the U.S.

Optimizing Plant Production Under a Controlled Environment – Research and Education Programs at the Ohio State University

Dr. Chieri Kubota, Leading controlled environment agriculture researcher and professor at Ohio State University

Dr. Kubota’s research mission is to serve in the development of science and technology in the area of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Her projects are in an interdisciplinary area that encompasses plant physiology and horticultural engineering to enhance understanding and efficiency of CEA plant production systems such as greenhouses, warehouses (vertical farms), and growth chambers.

Vertical Farm Production of Young Plants, From Hemp to Tomatoes

John Jackson, CEO and co-founder of the USA’s first commercial vertical farm producing seedlings and transplants for field and the greenhouse, the Sustainable Indoor Growing Systems, Inc.

John is the CEO of Sustainable Indoor Growing Systems, Inc. (SIGS) born from an USDA funded industry-academic partnership with Grafted Growers, the University of Arizona, and North Carolina State University. John is an award-winning entrepreneur and University of Arizona alum with an MBA from the Eller College of Management. John has successfully launched investor and grant funded businesses and operated tech based companies to early stage revenue. Born in Compton, California, John continues his grandfather’s legacy as a sharecropper of tomatoes in rural Texas.

SIGS gives plants what they need to express the features that the market wants.

Sustainable Indoor Growing Systems, Inc. (SIGS) is a clean agricultural technology company that uses controlled environment agriculture to induce young generic plants to express enhanced physiological traits customers want – while increasing the economics of propagation. This is made possible by scientific discovery and development of unique growing recipes which are learned and enabled only by the SIGS multi-layered growing platform and architecture.

Are Consumers and Growers Putting Dollars in the Local Food Industry? Insights on Technologies and Preferences

Dr. Ariana Torres, Ag Economist and Assistant Professor at Purdue University

Dr. Torres’ background combines field experience in agriculture with theoretical and applied research on agricultural economics. She has worked on projects looking at the impact of marketing choices on technology adoption for fruit and vegetable growers; the economic implications of social capital on entrepreneurship; and the role of community support on the resilience of small business after disasters.

Dr. Torres uses economic analysis to support the economic viability of the horticulture industry. Her research focuses on the intersection between the horticulture industry and marketing decisions. Her goal is to conduct innovative outreach and applied research in specialty crops marketing, with the end of promoting economic sustainability for horticultural businesses.

Dr. Torres is currently working on a project evaluating the market, economics, and potential barriers to produce export-quality dried apricots from smallholders of southern Tajikistan. She is also working on evaluating the adoption of a solar dehydrator for selected dried specialty crops in Indiana and Georgia. Lastly, she is collecting foundational data and establishing long-term pricing reports for Indiana farmers markets.

How technology is changing controlled environment agriculture – from hemp to berries

Chris Higgins, General Manager of Hort Americas and Founder/Owner of Urban Ag News

Chris Higgins is General Manager of Hort Americas, LLC a wholesale supply company focused on all aspects of the horticultural industries. He is also owner of and was a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture and the International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture in Panama. With over 20 years of industry experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture.


We have added a panel discussion with industry experts to the agenda!

Paul Brentlinger is President of CropKing Inc., based out of Lodi, OH. He has extensive knowledge of growing high-quality food products and is a controlled environmental agriculture expert who has spoken at the University of Florida, Indoor-Ag Con, Cultivate and a variety of other conferences. Having been in business for 35 years, CropKing is the leader in commercial hydroponics and growing systems, with many techniques and practices applicable to a wide variety of crops. Under Paul’s leadership, CropKing consults for new operations, manufactures greenhouses and hydroponic systems, and distributes a variety of products in supports of both cannabis and produce growers around the globe.


The Institute at Nela Park

1975 Noble Rd. Cleveland, OH 44112

Date & Time

Monday, September 23, 2019
9 am to 4pm


Early bird admission price is $30 if registration occurs before Sept. 16.
Regular admission: $50


Hyatt Legacy Village
24665 Cedar Rd
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

The rate is $129 for the night of 9/22/19.

• Call the toll-free number at 1-888-492-8847 for Hyatt Place Reservations and ask for the “Great Lakes Ag Tech Summit” or code G-GLGT

• OR use this link

About Urban Ag News
The mission of Urban Ag News is to be the leading science communicator for the commercial hydroponics, greenhouse vegetable, vertical farming and urban agriculture industries. Urban Ag News educates readers and provide an understanding of the industry’s latest technologies and luminaries.

About Current, powered by GE
Current, powered by GE, offers cutting-edge innovations in horticultural lighting. We’ve spent years perfecting our lighting technology and working with growers, systems integrators and plant scientists to establish the specific needs of the horticulture industry. The result? LED grow systems that maximize the potential of greenhouses and indoor farms by enabling efficient growth at an industrial scale.

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