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Cargill to open innovation lab at University of Illinois

Students and staff will work with Cargill business leaders, operations teams and customers to help move digital ideas to test mode.

University of Illinois students focused on solving some of the world's greatest challenges across the global food and agriculture systems will soon have a new space to test their work, thanks to a partnership with Cargill. The Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus will be the home of the newest Cargill Innovation Lab, the company announced this week.

Led by Cargill's digital labs team of data scientists, innovation lab students and staff will work directly with Cargill business leaders, operations teams and customers to help move digital ideas to test mode in just weeks instead of months.

"Cargill's commitment to engaging our students in its innovation process will add a new dimension to their educational experiences at Illinois," said Robert Jones, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor. "I had the good fortune to visit Cargill's headquarters and engage with their leadership in this process. I am excited that Cargill has decided to join the dynamic environment in our Research Park."

In turn, the Cargill Innovation Lab will provide the company with a pipeline of talented software engineering and data science students and graduates ready to modernize agricultural supply chains and food systems across the globe.

"We are on a constant search for new innovations and new talent, whose fresh thinking can help us bring new technologies to life," said Keith Narr, vice president of Cargill's digital labs team. "With an impressive engineering and computer science program, the University of Illinois is an ideal partner to spur the growth and innovation in our digital business."

The Cargill Innovation Lab formally opens its doors this fall, following a successful first phase of the partnership, including a 12-week internship program.

"We know our students are motivated by making an impact in their communities," Jones said. "There are few greater ways to do so than by helping Cargill fulfill its purpose of feeding the world."

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