Prize money of €135,000 (US$149,000) is being offered in a new global challenge to find innovative ways to improve sustainable cotton farming practices around the world. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and environmental consultants Dalberg Advisors are offering the money as an incentive in the ‘Better Cotton Innovation Challenge’.

They are inviting innovators from universities, research and development labs, start-ups, and non-profit organisations to take part in the competition. The prize money will be divided by up to four winners who will also have the opportunity to pilot test and scale their innovations on the ground with BCI Farmers.

The contest is in two parts. ‘Challenge One: Customised Training’ is looking for innovations to bring training, on more sustainable farming practices, to hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers around the world.

‘Challenge Two: Data Collection’ seeks ideas to collect data from farmers more quickly and cheaply to make BCI licensing processes more efficient. The organisers say solutions could range from machine learning to satellite-based analytics, and from image recognition to behavioural nudges.

Cristina Martin Cuadrado, programme manager at BCI, said: “BCI has scaled rapidly over the past decade, and we now work with our partners to provide training, support and capacity building to more than 2.2 mn cotton farmers.

“We are always looking for new ideas and solutions to enable us to keep improving the BCI programme. This is the first time we have launched a global challenge! We encourage anyone who is sitting on an excellent idea, to come forward and submit your application.”

Pramit Chanda, Country Director with IDH added, “We have partnered with Dalberg Advisors on the Innovation Challenge to identify solutions which will help us deepen the impact the BCI programme has on cotton farmers and accelerate the adoption of sustainable cotton farming practices globally.” The deadline to apply to the Better Cotton Innovation Challenge is 15th January 2020.