Deere and Iowa State University: A Successful Partnership Based on Innovation

March 6th, 2020Deere and Iowa State

For many years, Deere and Iowa State University have enjoyed a mutually-beneficial partnership that continues to grow, with close to 2,000 alumni employed worldwide and long-term support across academic, philanthropic, research, and economic development areas.

Matt Darr, from Iowa State’s AG and Biosystems engineering department, is a primary point of contact for the university’s comprehensive relationship with Deere. At any time, close to 20 faculty members from disciplines across campus are interacting with Deere representatives from a variety of business units. Deere’s engagement touchpoints at Iowa State include hiring a significant number of interns and full-time employees each year, research collaborations in multiple units, capstone projects, and college and department advisory council representation, along with an annual philanthropic contribution spread across many programs intended to raise its visibility among students and align with its recruiting and business goals.

Deere opened a technology innovation center in 2018 and a stand-alone engineering research facility in 2019, both in Iowa State’s research park. The technology innovation center is permanently staffed to recruit and develop strategic talent pipelines with critical focus areas of IT, cyber-security, advanced engineering, and materials. The $15M one-of-a-kind permanent research facility is the only instance in which Deere has established a research and product development facility with a university partner. The research facility also aims to broaden engagement with faculty and increase research.

A team consisting of staff from across campus meets periodically to discuss recent activities and plan future interactions. This team consists of representatives from the Office of the Vice President of Research, the Center for Industrial Research and Service, the ISU Research Park, Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations, ISU Foundation, the Career Services Council, and the Office of Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer. Associate Deans for research from the colleges of engineering, agriculture and life sciences, business, and liberal arts and sciences also join the periodic working group. The focus is on strategic initiatives that will help the partnership grow in the next five to 10 years, including the following:

  • Increasing diversity in STEM areas
  • Long-range workforce development in areas like data science, IT, and automation
  • Deeper research connectivity in precision farming, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, and cybersecurity