The Yield Lab Institute, in partnership with the United Soybean Board (USB), Syngenta, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the ICL Group, have announced the winners of the Soy Innovation Challenge. Seven finalists were selected from nearly 90 worldwide applicants. These ag-tech start-ups and teams offered solutions across a wide range of specialized fields, ranging from land stewardship and greenhouse gas monitoring to blockchain, traceability advancements, and detailed nutritional information.
The challenge delivered game-changing technologies designed to disrupt the current soybean value chain to create increased profitability for U.S. soybean farmers, say the firms involved in the Soy Innovation Challenge. A total of $220,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the winners, along with in-kind cloud computing technical service credits and entrepreneurial networking and business coaching.
The cash prize winners announced at this week’s virtual Commodity Classic 2021 are:
- Regrow. (formerly FluroSat). This firm provides full crop-cycle analytics for sustainable and profitable agriculture. It was the Grand Prize winner and received an award of $100,000.
- Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC). This firm is launching a national ecosystem services market to provide farmers with compensation for the economic and social benefits from their land stewardship practices. This first runner-up was awarded $60,000. (ESMC was one of the firms featured in a January 2021 cover story of Successful Farming.
- Soil Metrics. This firm provides software services for farmers to understand current greenhouse gas emissions and evaluate options for reducing them. This second runner-up awarded $40,000.
- Genesis Feed Technologies. This firm provides a platform that increases the market value of U.S. soybeans across the supply chain by revealing the economic impact of their high-quality nutritional profile. This third runner-up was awarded $20,000.
The winner of the AWS in-kind cloud computing technical service credits awards also announced at Commodity Classic 2021 are:
- Soil Metrics, the winner of $25,000 in-kind AWS credits.
- SLUcode, the winner of $10,000 in-kind AWS credits.
- The New Fork, the winner of $10,000 in-kind AWS credits.
“The soy checkoff is committed to supporting these partnerships to give farmers access to new technology and information they need to make the best decisions for their farms,” said USB’s past chair, Keith Tapp, in a USB news release. “The winners demonstrated the ag engineering creativity needed to develop the next generation of actionable farming solutions. Their innovations will make a positive impact on U.S. soy’s value chain well into the future.”
Cash prize winners were selected using methodical criteria developed with the sponsors and partners of the Soy Innovation Challenge. That criteria included:
- Market opportunity, scalability, and reproducibility of the innovation
- Value back to farmers
- Economics to produce and value created to market and stakeholders
- Disruption to the soy value chain
The AWS credits award winners were selected based on the advancement of their innovations and the finalists that would best benefit from and utilize AWS credits and support services.
“The Soy Innovation Challenge winners represent a promising and diverse group of innovations that will capture more value back to the stakeholders that need that value the most — farmers,” said Brandon Day, chief operating officer of The Yield Lab Institute.
“All of the finalists represent the best of a very competitive applicant pool that aims to disrupt the soy value chain. The Yield Lab Institute will be monitoring these promising winners for years to come!”
The Soy Innovation Challenge bridges the gap between production agriculture and technology companies that have farmer profitability top of mind, say sponsors. Ultimately, the winners presented an innovative solution that has strong potential to scale and capture more value back to farmers with financial and technical support.
“It is an honor to be selected as the grand prize winner of the Soy Innovation Challenge,” said Anastasia Volkova, CEO and founder of Regrow (formerly FluroSat), in a news release. “The support from these forward-thinking sponsors will help our team benefit soybean farmers and the value chain overall. This plug-and-play technology enables farmers to monitor and plan for individualized sustainable practices and quantify the value of those practices through data that can be used to market products and preserve the land for the future.”