In the existing soybean supply chain, U.S. soy farmers are principally price takers without transparent access to market signals originating from end users. Similarly, the complexity and competitive nature of the value chain can make it difficult for end users to buy raw materials that meet their needs. The Soy Innovation Challenge seeks to enhance the soy value chain – focusing on increasing collaboration and bridging the gap between farmers, agribusinesses, experts, and the selected startup companies or teams.
The United Soybean Board (USB) and the Yield Lab Institute kicked off the Soy Innovation Challenge on March 24, 2020, National Ag Day in the United States. This non-dilutive startup accelerator program identifies innovative soybean value chain-based product solutions and supports the most promising ones with business coaching and entrepreneurial networking. The Soy Innovation Challenge is centered around business mentorship and entrepreneurial networking with USB and the Yield Lab’s existing networks to help those soy innovations with the most promise to grow, scale, and commercialize.
The challenge will emphasize technologies, innovations, and ideas that better communicate market signals from the demand side back upstream to the farmers, and those ideas that are able to capture sustainability and environmental impacts. The Soy Innovation Challenge will seek ideas for the creation of new kinds of supply chain structures and technologies that offer transparency, facilitate alignment based on measurable sustainability parameters, and increase farm profitability.
Startups and teams (research and project teams are welcome) with innovations all along the soy value chain that align with the outlined mission of capturing value back to U.S. soy farmers are invited to participate. Each selected participant is assigned a business mentor for the duration of the one-year challenge and is eligible for $100,000 in non-dilutive prizes.
The Soy Innovation Challenge will run through March 2021 where the final pitch event will showcase the participating startups’ and teams’ innovations and technologies in the soy value chain. At the final event of the challenge, tentatively scheduled for the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in March 2021, the participating startups, teams will pitch their innovations and technologies to an esteemed panel of judges and audience of conference attendees. Cash prizes will be awarded by the panel of judges to several of the participants.
Startups and teams working in the soybean value chain are invited to apply to the Soy Innovation Challenge for impactful mentorship and entrepreneurial networking to accelerate their innovation and/or technology. The application deadline has been extended until June 20, 2020; please apply here.