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Call for application: Hackathon for Food Loss and Waste – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle



Hackathon for Reducing Food Loss and Waste is finally here! Do you have innovative solutions to challenges around sustainable food system, packaging and waste reduction/re-utilization? Tell us now, and you have the chance to make it happen!


FAO China and its partners invite you to register your team to the Hackathon latest on 3 November 2019. Ten selected teams will be invited to develop and present their ideas in Beijing, China on 23-24 November 2019. The top three winner teams will be awarded surprising prizes. Ready to join us? Here are the basic requirements for registration:

  • A brilliant idea on how to tackle challenges on food loss and waste
  • A team of 2 to 5 members
  • All the team members are between 18-35 years old
  • Teams with computer sciences background are strongly encouraged

See the guidelines below and register you team now! If you have any questions, please contact FAO-CN@fao.org 



Globally up to one third, 1.3 billion tons, of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. Food loss and waste represents one of the most pressing challenge of our time. In China, increasing urbanization and climate change are transforming the food system from growing to processing and packing to waste management. FAO estimates that about 80 kg of food per capita per year is wasted in Asian countries, including China. Wasting food means wasting the scarce natural resources available, increasing impact on climate change and missing the opportunity to feed a growing population in the future. New technologies, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) represent a huge potential to tackle food loss and waste and offer innovative approaches to this complex challenge. ICT and AI can be used for developing sustainable food systems, creating innovative food packaging, and reducing food waste.


What is Hackathon?

Hackathon is an innovative event where teams consisted of skilled experts engage in creating solutions for specific issues and challenges in a collaborative environment. The outcome may be an ICT tool, software, app, sustainable product, business model or other solution, which may lead to the inception of a start-up business or project. This Hackathon is an opportunity to show how food loss and waste related challenges can be turned into opportunities and could be solved in sustainable way using ICT. An exemplary solution is efficient, innovative, scalable and as a crosscutting theme environmentally, socially and economically sustainable product or service. All projects should be in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with SDG 2 Zero Hunger and SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production.


Who can apply?

Hackathon is open to the youth, including students, regardless of their age or nationality. The participants must be between 18 and 35 years old (ID will be requested from the 10 selected teams). They shall demonstrate interest, knowledge or experience in the field of the Hackathon and be passionate about technology and innovation, or have an idea that impacts food loss and waste reduction, hunger and / or poverty related to food systems development. Each team must have 2-5members. Ideally, the team members may have following skills:

  • software programming
  • agriculture / food systems development
  • consumer behavior / food marketing
  • business administration
  • service design
  • environmental science
  • human-centered design
  • project management
  • marketing / communications
  • social media
  • artificial intelligence
  • data engineering



  • 3 November 2019 – Last day to register your team
  • 11 November 2019 – Announcement of the 10 selected Hackathon teams
  • 23-24 November 2019 – The 10 selected teams will be invited to Beijing, China to participate in the Hackathon event. Travel and accommodation costs will be partially covered. After each team have further developed, polished and presented their ideas, the jury will announce the top three winner teams.
  • 26 November 2019 – The winner team will be invited to present at the Save Food Campaign Conference in Shanghai, China. Opportunity to be invited to other conferences may be provided.
  • December 2019 onwards – Teams could potentially receive operational and start-up support for further developing their ideas.


Prize and benefits for the Hackers

During the Hackathon, participants will be able to connect with the United Nations resources, receive support to develop their ideas, and benefit from specific knowledge and skill sets of experts from FAO, Tsinghua University and other partners. All participants will benefit from:

  • topical experts from FAO, Tsinghua University and other partners
  • process facilitators and experts from FAO and Tsinghua University
  • entrepreneurship and innovation coaches
  • creative tools
  • inspiring workspace
  • diverse participants
  • creating international network

The winner team will have the chance to present the Hackathon solution at the Save Food Campaign Conference in Shanghai, China. Travel and accommodation costs will be partially covered with a cap.


Ready for the challenge?

Chinese and English are the working languages during the Hackathon, but registration, proposals and all presentations will be completed in English. Hackathon projects should contribute to sustainable food production, packaging or waste reduction/re-utilization. The following topics might be taken into consideration when developing the idea:

  • farmers’ access to market
  • agro-products payment and pricing
  • reusable packaging
  • urban agriculture
  • food traceability
  • use of organic raw materials
  • waste re-utilization
  • engaging catering/restaurant sector
  • service design models
  • sharing economy services

The projects will be judged by the criteria of:

  • technical strength of solution on food loss or waste
  • creativity and innovation
  • impact
  • scalability
  • replicability
  • sustainability
  • business model
  • use of open data
  • design and user experience
  • quality of the pitch


Get inspired!

There are wide range of open databases freely accessible that may be useful when designing the idea, for instance:

You can also get inspired by reading:



Answer the questions below inEnglish and send them by email to FAO-CN@fao.org latest on 3 November 2019. You must answer the first 5 questions, and the rest 3 questions are optional.

  1. Name of the team, contact person’s email and phone number
  2. Information of each team member (2-5 persons): name, age, country, specific skills for the Hackathon (see ‘’Who can apply?’’ above)
  3. Introduce your idea and how does it contribute to reducing food loss and waste?
  4. Why is your idea special?
  5. Who is the target user and / or beneficiary group?
  6. What impact could your idea make by 2030?
  7. What kind of government agency / company / institute / university / other would you like to interview to further develop your idea, if you had the chance?
  8. Why should your team be selected for the Hackathon event in Beijing? Answer the last question in a 1-2 minutes long video. Upload the video online to a video sharing platform (Youku, Baidu Cloud, Google Cloud, YouTube or other) and share the address of the link.