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Deere & Co. is plowing ahead with a strategy to grow and diversify its technology talent with the launch of a new Innovation Hub in Austin, Texas. The Moline-based Deere announced the collaboration hub, located in Austin’s vibrant South Congress district, in a news release Thursday, Feb. 24. The new operation will enable the global manufacturer to further strengthen its technology capabilities and attract talent interested in solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges – including feeding a growing population, Deere said. “Austin is a growing destination for some of the brightest minds in technology,” Jahmy Hindman, John Deere’s chief technology officer, said in the release. “Opening this office was a strategic decision from both a talent and collaboration perspective, particularly in software and data analytics.” The company plans to hire data scientists, data engineers, embedded software engineers, systems engineers, computer vision and machine learning operations engineers. In an interview with the QCBJ, Deere spokeswoman Jennifer Hartmann said the company is targeting areas with clusters of technology talent. “This is about Deere diversifying its talent and accessing that talent pool in areas where there is already a big pool of recruits.” She said the draw to Austin was both due to its available talent and because of the connectivity and collaboration Deere can have with regional universities, startups, incubators and the technology community. The Innovation Hub, which now employs a core group of 10 technology staff, will expand to 50 by year’s end, Ms. Hartmann said. Eventually, Deere anticipates employing 200 to 300 workers in the Austin area – either in the new office or in a hybrid work environment. The company did not provide the dollar investment associated with the new operation. “This office will help us continue to develop industry leading technology and solutions for farms and construction worksites,” Andrez Carberry, Deere’s global HR operations director, said in the release. Mr. Carberry, who previously led Deere’s global talent acquisitions and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, “is looking at multi-location strategy for expanding access to tech talent and diversifying our employee base,” Ms. Hartmann told the QCBJ. While Deere continues to offer a flexible work environment, including working from home, Mr. Carberry said. “This new office will provide an in-person space for innovators to inspire pivotal moments in collaboration and creativity.” The Houston office also “will serve as a meetup point” for current and new Deere employees whose jobs are focused on product innovations such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and applications for tractors and other equipment, Ms. Hartmann said. It also will be a hub for employees with Blue River Technology and Bear Flag, two Silicon Valley technology firms Deere acquired in the past five years. Blue River Technology was acquired in September 2017 and enhanced Deere’s leadership position in precision agriculture. Bear Flag Robotics, an agriculture tech startup that Deere just acquired in August, is accelerating Deere’s autonomous driving technology. The Houston Innovation Hub also comes on the heels of Deere’s announcement in December to open a new Chicago office in the growing Fulton Market neighborhood. That expansion is different in that, Ms. Hartmann said, it is helping build out Deere’s internal IT operations in the areas of information technology, software development and technology to support Deere’s dealer network. Both the new Houston and Chicago tech centers serve as feeder operations to Deere’s main technology facility in downtown Moline. “Our IT team considers the Quad Cities their hub,” she added. The Austin operation currently is leasing two floors of a three-story building at 1333 S. Congress. Meanwhile, Deere has a new building under construction in Chicago that the new IT team there will move into in August, Ms. Hartmann said. “Deere’s mission has always been about helping farmers sustainably feed a growing global population,” Mr. Hindman added in the release. “We’re looking for people who want to help create technology that will have a significant impact on their communities and the world.”