Sustainable Food Systems Challenge from MIT Solve
How can we produce and consume low-carbon, resilient, and nutritious food?
Over $1.5 million in prize funding is available for Solve’s 2020 Global Challenges, including Sustainable Food Systems.
Deadline to Submit a Solution on
Agriculture occupies more than 40 percent of the Earth’s land and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Farming, fishing, transporting, processing, and distributing food supports 28 percent of human livelihood, including 470 million smallholder farmers who often depend on less than 2 hectares for both income and sustenance. By 2050, that system will need to feed 3 billion more people while reducing net emissions to zero to align with Paris Agreement targets.
New trends make transforming the food system more difficult. As people move out of poverty, they buy more meat, increasing the amount of land used to raise and feed animals, and further burdening overexploited fish stocks. Disruptions from climate change-related disasters and recently, from COVID-19, can lead to lower production and more food insecurity, demonstrating a need for more resilient supply chains. Simultaneously, humanity gets 75 percent of our food from just 17 species, decreasing resilience to diseases and other climate-related stresses and shocks. Finally, with 30 percent of food lost or wasted, a third of the food system’s environmental impact happens without feeding anyone.
New data-rich technologies, combined with the revival of traditional practices such as intercropping or indigenous fisheries management, hold great promise. But new business models are required to bring these approaches to far more people, while further innovation is still needed to transform the food system at scale.
The MIT Solve community is looking for technology-based solutions for a low-carbon global food system that provides nutrition with minimal environmental impact. To that end, Solve seeks solutions that:
Support small-scale producers with access to inputs, capital, and knowledge to improve yields while sustaining productivity of land and seas;
Scale practices and incentives for larger farmers and ranchers to decrease carbon emissions, land-use change, nutrient runoff, or water pollution;
Improve supply chain practices to reduce food loss, scale new business models for producer-market connections, and create low-carbon cold chains; and
Promote the shift towards low-impact, diverse, and nutritious diets, including low-carbon protein options.
All solutions selected for Solve’s five current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve. Solver teams will be selected by a panel of cross-sector judges at Solve Challenge Finals during UN General Assembly week in New York City on September 20, 2020.
In addition, to Solve funding, the following prizes are available to Solver teams selected for the Good Jobs & Inclusive Innovation Challenge. To be considered for a prize, complete the prize-specific question within the application. You do not need to meet these requirements to apply to the Good Jobs & Inclusive Innovation Challenge:
The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion
The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion is open to solutions that advance the economic, financial, and political inclusion of refugees. The prize is funded by Andan Foundation, a Swiss non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting solutions that promote refugee resilience, self-reliance, and integration. Up to $100,000 will be granted to up to four eligible Solver teams from across any of Solve’s current Global Challenges.
Innovation for Women Prize
Solutions that use innovative technology to improve the quality of life for women and girls are eligible for the Innovation for Women Prize. This prize is funded by the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which supports technology-focused projects that advance the needs of women and girls, and that promotes a world where women’s voices can be celebrated. Up to $75,000 will be granted across up to three Solver teams from any of Solve’s current Global Challenges.
The Gulbenkian Award for Adult Literacy
The Gulbenkian Foundation Award is open to solutions that increase literacy rates among adults and that advance inclusive economic growth through upskilling and greater digital literacy. Selected solutions will be based anywhere, and should be interested in including a future pilot in Portugal. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation will assist the selected Solver teams to find partners to support local pilots. The award is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, an international foundation based in Portugal which supports the fields of arts, charity, education, and science. Up to $300,000 will be granted across up to four eligible Solver teams from the Good Jobs and Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Learning for Girls and Women Challenges.
The AI for Humanity Prize
The AI for Humanity Prize is open to solutions that are already using strong data science, artificial intelligence, or machine learning to benefit humanity, and to solutions that are not yet using these technologies but plan to do so to amplify their impact in the future. This prize is made possible by The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and our global community through neuroscience research and information technology. Up to $200,000 will be granted across several Solver teams from any of Solve’s Global Challenges.
Given IFIA‘s membership in MIT Solve, this is a great opportunity for members to take part in this challenge