CHICAGO – September 20, 2023 – Semifinalists for the third annual Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge have been announced and 38 teams of innovators will now vie for a part of $1 million USD across three award levels – two Seeding The Future Grand Prizes ($250,000 each), three Growth Grants ($100,000 each), and eight Seed Grants ($25,000 each). Funded by the Seeding The Future Foundation and hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), this year’s Challenge received a record number of submissions (over 900) from 78 countries as multidisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs submitted their innovative approaches to transform the food system towards better nutrition security and planetary health.

“Global agricultural and food systems account for more than 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the role of impactful food system innovations related to climate change is becoming increasingly critical. The Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge focuses on innovations that transform food systems to be more resilient and sustainable while also enabling equitable access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food that is trusted by consumers,” said Bernhard van Lengerich, PhD, founder of Seeding The Future Foundation.

The Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge incentivizes impactful and transformative innovations that are created by teams from for-profit, non-profit, or academic research entities sharing a common goal: To address the challenges of climate change and nutrition security by transforming the global food system and its impact on planetary and personal health. From regenerative agriculture to artificial intelligence, the Challenge has received a wide range of innovative solutions, as demonstrated by the more than 2,400 submissions in the Challenge’s first three years.

Submissions opened on June 1 and closed on August 1. Over the last 45 days, submissions have been carefully evaluated and scored based on their novelty and projected impact on people’s lives and the environment by a panel of highly distinguished subject matter experts from different science and technology disciplines.

Here is a complete list of this year’s semifinalists:

Seeding The Future Grand Prize Semifinalists

Fork Farms for its efforts to scale its highly innovative vertical hydroponic Flex Farm into a large-scale operation, the Flex Acre, which can grow four times the amount of food to market with maximum potential for positive impact on people and the environment (USA).

Green America for its Soil & Climate Alliance’s innovative approach operating the Soil Carbon Initiative (SCI), a third-party verification program designed to accelerate the uptake of regenerative agriculture and promote soil regeneration and linking it with the Nutrition Density Alliance focusing on regenerative agricultures ability to produce more nutritious food (USA).

Green Farm Innovations, Inc. for its novel farm to doorstep food delivery model which aims to reduce the distance and middlemen between food producers and consumers through vertical farming in local production hubs with direct distribution to consumers (Canada).

INMED South Africa for its unique and impactful Aquaponics Social Enterprise (ASE) program, which builds upon INMED’s expertise in climate-smart aquaponics to generate a means to address food security, climate-change adaptation, inclusion, sustainable livelihoods, and other intertwined causes of systemic poverty at large scale (South Africa).

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for its Harvest Plus Program which leverages the nutritional benefits of locally grown biofortified crops used to develop nutrient-dense flours for porridge that can be easily stored, handled, and prepared for a large number of consumers via school feeding (Kenya).

Naandi Foundation for its ReGen program, a synergistic model of ReGenerative agriculture providing SEED (soil enrichers and ecosystem developers) and SALM (sustainable agriculture land management) as respective material agri-inputs and knowledge frameworks. RenGen is an assembly of biology-based tools for the sustainable adoption of regenerative agriculture, distributed free of cost through a decentralized network of 12 regenerative agricultural hubs (India).

Savory Institute for its groundbreaking work to regenerate 100,000 hectares of communally managed Maasai conservancies in Kenya’s Mara region. Savory’s holistic approach integrates grasslands regeneration into an inclusive value proposition with an ROI model spanning land stewards, local communities, food-and-fashion corporate partners, and impact investors (USA).

SnapDNA for its highly innovative, simple, rapid, lab-quality, molecular and live pathogen food testing technology that can be used in-field to eliminate the need to store product or ship to a lab, thereby significantly lowering cold or ambient storage and food cost, enabling a safer, fresher, and more trustworthy food supply while reducing food waste (USA).

Growth Grants Semifinalists

Association 3535 for its Cool Lion project, an innovative cooling-as-a-service enterprise utilizing solar powered cold storage hub solutions for small-holder farmers in Africa (Cote d'Ivoire).

BettaF!sh, a start-up that harnesses the potential of regenerative cultivated seaweed as a key ingredient in novel, delicious and environmentally sustainable plant-based seafood alternatives (Germany).

Cotex Technologies, Inc., for its development of a novel process to create controlled release fertilizers using biodegradable polymers as an environment-friendly solution with increased efficiency and at lower cost than current alternatives (Canada).

Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology for its development of a highly innovative scalable evaporative cooling blanket made from biodegradable material to reduce post-harvest losses of perishable goods in developing regions (Switzerland).

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) for its innovative development of plant extract based biopesticides and their on-farm applications for sustainable crops, benefitting human and environmental health (Kenya).

Ignitia for its ‘from-rain-to-grain’ climate intelligence solutions for farmers in tropical regions to address the problem of low accuracy weather forecasts and its consequences. Through advanced, tropical atmospheric physics-based numerical prediction models and machine learning techniques, Ignitia delivers hyper-local forecasts that are 2x as accurate as today’s global models (Sweden).

Saba Grocers for its Fresh Food Access Initiative, a comprehensive and novel program to distribute low volume produce orders to corner stores at wholesale prices through a Collective Purchasing Agreement which procures produce from BIPOC farmers. Saba’s work mitigates supply chain disparities which deprioritize supplying fresh produce to underserved communities (USA).

Kopernik for its innovative PANGAN Initiative: Preserving Ancestral Knowledge and Revitalizing Food Security for a Climate-Resilient and Sustainable Future. PANGAN specifically addresses food insecurity in West Timor, a problem that has been exacerbated by the climate crisis and affects underserved and marginalized communities the most (Indonesia).

Midwest Food Bank for its Tender Mercies, a low cost, environmentally conscious, nutrient-dense meal made from an innovative single meal formulation mix enriched with vitamins and minerals, creating enjoyable and fully nutritious, yet cost-effective meals for school feeding programs, disaster relief, refugee camps, HIV/AIDS programs, or family settings (Kenya).

Node Eight Foundation for its First Farms project, an innovative agritech/fintech solution that is transforming agriculture in Africa. By leveraging its digital platform, it invests in first-time certified farmers, equipping them with the tools they need to thrive in modern agriculture (Ghana).

Nurture Posterity International for NutriPosh, a unique approach protecting the nutritional quality of seed enriched maize flours used for enhanced nutrition in school feeding programs via regenerative agricultural practices, solar powered dehydration technologies and the use of biodegradable packaging (Uganda).

Save The Environment’s "SENVIR” for its biodiversity driven agronomic research on the choice of substrate and undergrowth needed to propagate Gnetum africanum which is applied in multiplier greenhouses and integrated into forestlands to promote sustainable growth of this endangered and widely consumed forest plant (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Seed Grant Semifinalists

Alabaster International, “Enset Cultivation, Development and Utilization in Ethiopia and Kenya - Determining the Impact of Enset on Food Security” (USA).

Amity Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, “Promoting Sustainable Agriculture: Harnessing Novel Microbial Consortia for Eco-Friendly Reduction of Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides” (India).

AQUAGENIUS, “Small-scale Fish Farming Enhanced by a Circular Economy and Innovative, Eco-friendly Food Strategy” (Republic of Benin).

Campbell Systems Design, “The Open Smart Kitchen (OSK) Hub: A Camera-based Food Management System to Reduce Food Spoilage and Promote Healthy Eating” (USA).

Crover, Ltd., “Maintaining the Quality of Grains and Oilseeds in Bulk Storage and Transportation” (United Kingdom).

Egerton University, “Developing a Togotia Digital Knowledge Platform for Improved Production, Value-addition and Utilization” (Kenya).

Feeding Albania Foundation, “Sustainable Egg Production for NGOs and the Impoverished in Albania” (Albania).

Global Seed Savers, “Empowering Communities for Sustainable, Equitable, Ecological, and Diverse Food Systems through Seed Sovereignty (ECOSEEDS Project)” (USA).

Journalists for Human Rights, “Sustainable Urban Farming for Food Security and Environmental Conservation” (Macedonia).

Makerere University, “Harnessing the Potential of a Millet-Pomegranate Composite Flour, ‘Millipome,’ as a Safe, Nutritive and Healthy Living Alternative Food” (Uganda).

Ndalo Heritage Trust, “Sorghum Value-addition: Scaling Up Nutrition, Human and Climate Health for At-risk Populations in Siaya County, Kenya” (Kenya).

Safe Environment Hub, “Black Soldier Fly farming: Changing Trash to Cash” (Kenya).

Stembla Kano. “Rhombus: An App to Empower Food Security and Farmers” (Nigeria).

Tiny Seed Project’s “PISCES: Permaculture Institute, Cultivating Resilience: Promoting Cover Crops for Sustainable Agriculture in Northern Togo” (USA).

University of Connecticut, “Green Engineering of Seaweed Biomaterials for Sustainable Food Protection” (USA).

Urban Being (URBNG) Inc., “JRDN-URBN: Building Food Autonomy into the City” (Canada).

UV4Good, “UVC LED-based systems to clean water in the field and other emergency situations across the world: Ukraine case” (Ukraine).

West Virginia University Research Corporation, “Indoor LED Strawberry Growing: Lighting the Way to Zero Waste Beverages” (USA).

Seed Grant winners and Growth Grant and Grand Prize finalists will be announced next month. Follow IFT and Seeding The Future Foundation on LinkedIn for updates on the announcement. For more information on the Challenge, go to www.ift.org/food-system-challenge.

About Institute of Food Technologists

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of approximately 12,000 individual members from more than 100 countries committed to advancing the science of food. Since 1939, IFT has brought together the brightest minds in food science, technology and related professions from academia, government, and industry to solve the world’s greatest food challenges. IFT works to ensure that its members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. IFT believes that science is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit ift.org.

About Seeding The Future Foundation

The Seeding The Future Foundation is a private, non-profit organization motivated by its core value that everyone should always have equitable access to safe, nutritious, affordable, appealing, and trusted food. It seeks to inspire innovative solutions that can help transform the global food system to be more sustainable and benefits the health of people and the environment. The Foundation provides seed funding and support to promising ideas and high impact innovations to improve food systems globally, technologies to reduce post-harvest losses in developing regions, as well as foundational work in academia and research. For more information, please visit seedingthefuture.org.

Media Contact

Dennis Van Milligen
Senior Manager, Public and Media Relations
Institute of Food Technologists
630-853-3022
[email protected]

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