The Global AgriInno Challenge 2021: Connecting Youth-Led Innovation to the Agri-food Sector

The Global AgriInno Challenge 2021: Connecting Youth-Led Innovation to the Agri-food Sector

Duration of the Call: 09 September – 24 October 2021 

Global AgriInno Challenge 2021 kicks off! 

Global AgriInno Challenge 2021 aims to harness innovation, entrepreneurship and digital technologies to address challenges related to the transformation from rural villages into ‘Digital Villagesthat contribute to the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, while leaving no one behind.  

Join us now, and you’ll have the chance to share information and enhance your knowledge on digital agriculture, innovation and start-up practices through a unique global network composed of United Nations’ mentors, leading angel investors, academic experts and youth agripreneurs/innovators from the global agri-food sector.  

Please submit your team’s application by 24 October 2021(24:00 CEST).  

The selected teams will be invited to further develop and pitch their innovation solutions in Shenzhen, China on 10-11 November 2021with all relevant expenses covered. Winning teams will receive seed funding, and the opportunity to participate in a Digital Agriculture Bootcamp. So, are you ready to join us? 

Remote participation is an option for international teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

See the guidelines below and register your team now!  

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact

FAO has started the 1000 Digital Villages Initiative that helps translate digital agriculture strategies into actions on the ground, accelerate rural digital transformation and close the rural-urban digital divide in a holistic and sustainable manner.  

The concept looks at the transformation from varied perspectives: a) from the perspective of agricultural production, it refers to ‘E-Agriculture’ and focuses on improving productivity by using innovation and digital solutions, for example, climate smart agriculture, precision agriculture, intelligent facility agriculture; b) from the perspective of farmer’s lives, it refers to Digital Farmer Services and focuses on how to enhance farmers’ accessibility to different kinds of social and economic services in terms of financial services, social inclusion employment; and c) from the perspective of the village, it refers to Digital Services to support rural transformation and focuses on how to enhance the delivery of public services on health, education, jobs, welfare, tourism (eco-tourism/agri-tourism).   

FAO's Strategic Framework seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. 

  1. Better production: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, through efficient and inclusive food and agriculture supply chains at local, regional, and global levels, ensuring resilient and sustainable agri-food systems in a changing climate and environment.
  2. Better nutrition: end hunger, achieve food security, and improved nutrition in all its forms, including promoting nutritious food and increasing access to healthy diets.
  3. Better environment: protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and combat climate change (reduce, reuse, recycle, residual management) through more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.
  4. Better life: promote inclusive economic growth by reducing inequalities (urban/rural areas, rich/poor countries, men/women).

 More information about the Four Betters read here

Adopting a bottom-up approach, Global AgriInno Challenge 2021seeks to address challenges related to the transformation of rural villages into Digital Villages for the Four Betters and contribute directly to SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) as well as to supporting the achievement of the broader SDG agenda.   

2. Purpose

Aimed at identifying, accelerating and scaling-up youth-led innovative business models and innovation solutions to address challenges of the transformation of rural villages into Digital Villages for the Four Betters, FAO has organized the Global AgriInno Challenge 2021 in partnership with Zhejiang University, the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, and with support from Pinduoduo. The challenge will implement the following actions:  

a) transforming rural villages into digital villages through innovative solutions under the framework of the Four Betters (better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life);

b) sharing the latest information, knowledge, and best practices in rural digital transformation innovations, digital technologies, and business models;

c) building an enabling environment through Public-Private Partnerships and co-creation opportunities with diverse participants, practitioners, and experts;

d) engaging and empowering young agripreneurs and innovators to tackle development challenges through FAO and partners’ global networks with continuous support during and after the innovation challenge;

 3. Benefits for participants 

The teams selected to attend the Hacking For Good and Pitch Event in China will benefit from:

  • 2-day professional development around your team’s solution through an approach of co-creation with other young agripreneurs/innovators and experienced experts worldwide. All related expenses for attending the Hacking For Good and pitch events in China will be covered, including a) travel expenses: round-trip flight and/or train; local transportation fee (taxi/bus/subway); b) accommodation and meals; c) visa application fees as applicable for international participants. 
  • Advice from experienced experts from the UN, international organizations, the private sector and academia, and the chance to have a dialogue with high-level representatives from leading companies and organizations.
  • The chance to meet top angel investors from venture capital funds and business leaders in the agri-food sector who may invest in your solutions.
  • The chance to build your global network in digital agriculture with a multitude of stakeholders.
  • The top winning teams will receive seed funding.
  • The top winning teams will have the opportunity to join the Digital Agriculture Bootcamp (training, travel and accommodation covered).
  • Become an alumnus for Global AgriInno Challenge.

 4. Who can apply? 

The Global AgriInno Challenge 2021 is open to:

  • FAO staff practicing or exploring innovation, digital agriculture, digital solutions, and rural transformation;
  • all youth with digital innovations or ideas for agri-food sector.

 5. Selection criteria: 

  • The theme of this year is Digital Villages Solutions for the Four Betters.
  • The team needs to harness innovation, digital technology, and entrepreneurship to contribute to the transformation of rural villages into Digital Villages for the Four Betters given full consideration of local development status and context. More information about the Four Betters is here.
  • The team is registered as a company or the project has been operational for at least 1 year.
  • One leader of the team must be under 35 years old.
  • Teams with female member(s) are highly encouraged.
  • Each team should be composed of a minimum of 2 people; maximum 5 people to participate on-site.
  • The feasibility and ability of using innovation/digital technology/business model to solve challenges relating to the transformation of rural villages into digital villages and the contribution to the Four Betters must be clearly presented.
  • The possibility of replication or scaling-up your digital villages solutions must be demonstrated.

Note: any adjustments to the criteria will be updated through Digital Agriculture Forum Website. Also, all the participants will be notified in time through e-mails. 

6. Languages 

English and Chinese are the two working languages for the Global AgriInno Challenge 2021. However, all the proposals and presentations shall be conducted in English.  

7. How to apply? 

The team leader needs to submit a) the application form; b) the innovation solution presentation (in PPT format); and c) a video to [email protected] and copying [email protected] by 24 October 2021 (24:00 CEST).  

The documentation to submit should include (in English):

  • Application Form(you may scan QR code on item 12 )
  • Innovation Solution (PowerPoint of max 12 slides, up to 250 words per slide, Microsoft YaHei Font,font size not less than 16)
    • Summary of the solution (up to 250 words)
    • Problem identification (analysis of challenges relating to Digital Villages)
    • Four Better Categories (identify which of the Four Betters do you apply your Digital Villages solutions to?)
    • Mission, vision, values of the project (the type of agriculture activity/sub-sector targeted)
    • Technical model (how to address challenges relating to Digital Villages?)
    • Timing justification (why is this moment the best time?)
    • Situation analysis (who is your main competitor and why is your solution better or more innovative than others?)
    • Business plan (target group, the description of outputs and related activities, adoption strategy, applied methods, partners, sustainability, and consideration of gender)
    • Financial situation (capital raised, capital needed, revenue analysis)
    • Phased development planning (what is the potential contribution of your solution in three years? how do you plan to achieve it? what are the milestones?)
  • 1-2 minutes long video explaining:
    • How is your Digital Villages idea or solution going to contribute to the Four Betters and help benefit vulnerable and rural populations? Answer this question in a 1-2 minute long video. Upload the video online to a video sharing platform (YouTube, Google Cloud, Youku, Baidu Cloud or others) and share the address of the link.

8. Timeline  

9. Mentors & Juries 

  • Coaches: senior innovation process facilitators and advisers in entrepreneurship.
  • Academic experts: FAO, Zhejiang University, and other stakeholders in the field of digital agriculture, innovation, and digital villages.
  • Business mentors: business leaders from top companies in agribusiness related sectors; angel investors from top venture capital funds with extensive investment experience in digital agriculture.
  • Juries: professional experts, investors, and business leaders in the agri-food sector.

10. Organizers Structure 

Host:  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations                                                                                                  Zhejiang University                                                                                                                                                       

Supporter: Foreign Economic Cooperation Center, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China                                          Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Guangdong Province, China                                                                  Pinduoduo Inc. 

11. Data protection 

Global AgriInno Challenge working group gives great importance to the responsible and transparent management of personal data. 

12. Scan QR code to apply