Graduation is fast approaching—and the real world looming. In the U.S. alone, institutions are expected to award some 1.86 million people Bachelor’s degree and 798,000 Master’s degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Many students dream of finding a job, starting a company, or inventing something new. For students who are interested in food and agriculture, Food Tank is highlighting some unique opportunities for these forward thinkers to fund their projects, receive professional training, and bolster their resumes. And these likely are projects students have already developed for a class, their thesis, or independent study.
Over the last few years, innovation prizes for students focused on nutrition, food sustainability, and agricultural innovation have increased. Many application deadlines took place earlier in 2017, so here are some competitions to remember for next year. The Thought For Food Challenge calls on bright university students to form teams and develop breakthrough solutions to feed a growing population. The Food+City Challenge Prize is an international startup competition that encourages innovation for urban farming. The Food to Market Challenge seeks a solution from a team that is innovative, feasible, and scalable to improve the Chicago area food system. The Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa (GAIA) AgTech Innovation Challenge hopes to bridge the gender gap in African agriculture by reviewing solutions that demonstrate clear benefits to groups that are often marginalized in the agricultural sector, including women. Lastly, the Fiberstar Student Innovation Contest asks students to come up with new ways to use citrus fibers.
The Norman Borlaug Award For Field Research and Application, Food-X Accelerator Program, the Good Food Media Award, the Food Innovation Challenge, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) YES! (Young Earth Solutions) Competition, and the World Food Programme (WFP) Accelerator are six great avenues that showcase individual ideas and accomplishments. Sponsoring organizations believe that issues such as the irresponsible use of resources, food waste, and the prevalence of malnutrition need practical interventions. These opportunities have cash prizes so winners can invest in their innovations to propel them forward.
Norman Borlaug Award For Field Research and Application: US$10,000
The Norman Borlaug Award will recognize exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under 40 years old who has fought to eliminate global hunger and poverty. Backed by the Rockefeller Foundation, candidates must be conducting field research or be working anywhere in the food system with farmers, animal herders, fishers or others in rural communities. It is intended to be presented to one innovator who also displays persistence and leadership. In unusual and rare circumstances, another person may share the award. Nominations are due June 30, 2017. The US$10,000 award will be presented in a ceremony during World Food Prize Week events in Des Moines, Iowa, in October 2017. The World Food Prize Foundation also provides round-trip airfare for the winner, as well as meals and lodging while in Des Moines.
Food-X Accelerator Program: US$50,000
Food-X is the first intensive business education program focusing on launching food and agriculture-related enterprises. Any early stage company in the food system, particularly around healthful eating, sustainable farming, and distribution is welcome to apply. Food-X prefers companies that are incorporated in the U.S. with at least two founders. Enterprises that are selected receive an investment of US$50,000, a 14-week business growth program with office space in New York City worth US$35,000, in-depth mentorship from industry experts, and access to a valuable network of investors. In exchange for this funding, Food-X asks for a 7 to 10 percent stake in the companies it helps to launch. Online applications for the next cycle are due July 30, 2017, and the winners will be chosen in September 2017.
Good Food Media Award: 10,000 € (US$10,618)
The Thomas Reuters Foundation and BCFN are calling all journalists, bloggers, freelancers, and individuals covering a variety of food issues to enter for a chance to win the Good Food Media Award. Winners will receive €10,000 (US$10,618), an all-expenses paid media training program, and have their work distributed by Reuters, a media outlet that reaches about one billion readers. “With this award, we want to connect the everyday person with issues that are ultimately affecting all of us, and we believe media is the best route to make this happen,” says Monique Villa, the CEO of Thomas Reuters Foundation.
The judging panel for this award will consider both published and unpublished written journalism, video, and photography. Judges consist of leaders in journalism, photography, and agricultural sustainability from around the world, including Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg. Submission guidelines and applications are available online until May 31, 2017. A public voting poll will help choose the winners who will be announced in October 2017.
Food Innovation Challenge: US$127,000
The Food Innovation Challenge encourages young people to accelerate their business and product ideas. Applicants must have a new idea that is a baked good, snack-type bar, or condiment that will be sold in a retail environment. Applications are taken from April 11 to May 16, 2017. After a multi-step process, the organization will announce prize winners at a banquet on August 11, 2017. The Grand Prize is US$127,000 which includes a combination of seed funding and services by different groups. It also provides the winner with product promotion and retail space at participating stores and a local county market.
BCFN YES! Research Grant Competition: 20,000 € (US$21,235)
The 2017 BCFN YES! Research Grant Competition seeks groundbreaking research ideas that have a high impact potential for the sustainability of food systems. Emerging experts are encouraged to submit studies that are innovative, have a promise of significant impact, and can meet global research needs. Project submissions can be related to new or ongoing research. Proposals must be submitted online by June 28, 2017. BCFN will select up to three winners who will receive a 20,000 € (US$21,235) research grant applied to a one-year investigation.
WFP Innovation Accelerator: US$100,000
The WFP Innovation Accelerator is a three to six-month program that helps scale solutions to solve world hunger. Teams receive up to US$100,000 in funding, mentorship from industry experts, and access to the world’s largest humanitarian organization, WFP. Apply online to submit your bold solutions. Located in Munich, Germany, this accelerator provides the guidance and space to make ideas a reality.
The Norman Borlaug Award For Field Research and Application, Food-X Accelerator Program, the Good Food Media Award, the Food Innovation Challenge, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) YES! (Young Earth Solutions) Competition, and the World Food Programme (WFP) Accelerator are five great opportunities that showcase individual ideas and accomplishments. Sponsoring organizations believe that issues such as the irresponsible use of resources, food waste, and the prevalence of malnutrition need practical interventions. These competitions have cash prizes so winners can invest in their innovations to propel them forward.