Student Agricultural and Food Systems Innovation Prize Launched – Help Innovate Agriculture!

Posted by Tawny Mata, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chief Scientist, on February 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Food ties all of humanity together, and making sure there is enough to go around while conserving our natural resources is critical to USDA’s mission. Our researchers think about how to sustainably produce greater quantities of safe and nutritious food every single day. Our in-house science agency, the Agricultural Research Service, has labs across the country that work on just those problems, while our National Institute of Food and Agriculture seeks out the most promising ideas from our university partners and awards the funding needed to get started.

Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh perspective to make a big jump in progress.

That’s why USDA is in cooperation with Agricultural Innovation Prize: Powered by 40 Chances to find the best new ideas for addressing the challenges in agriculture and food systems. This competition, coordinated by the University of Wisconsin at Madison with support from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, will award $215,000 in prizes to students with the most promising innovations in agriculture. The grand prize winner gets $100,000!

USDA is reaching out to its university partners to pass the word along to potential contestants and to its own agency scientists to serve as mentors to help teams take their idea to the next level.

If this challenge sounds fun and important, and you’re ready to sign up as a contestant, go to for more information about the scope, prizes, and timeline for the competition. You must submit your idea by February 28th, 2014, so get brainstorming! We, here at the USDA, can’t wait to see what you can do.

And if you want to be a judge or a mentor to student teams, head over to to get involved.

– See more at:

Posted 2/12/14