2020 UNDP Cultiv@te Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Challenge for Startups and R&D Teams Across the World

Deadline: February 14, 2020.

Cultiv@te brings together a global coalition of partners and stakeholders that want to bring innovation and technology where it is most needed, combining globally-leading innovation with local knowledge, expertise and market insights.

In 2050 the world will need to sustain some nine billion people, requiring an increase in food production by about 70%. At the same time, climate change further strains our ever-depleting natural resources, increasing the vulnerability of the highly resource-dependent agricultural sector. The sustainability of global food production will depend on our ability to innovate and become much more climate-resilient.

Much of the global production of food relies on smallholder farmers who often lack access to adequate and affordable production technology, timely and accurate information that helps them manage their farm, insurance products that mitigate risk as well as sources of finance to invest in their business. These are some of many tech and innovation entry points which in 2018 alone attracted venture capital investments to the tune of USD 16.9 billion globally to AgriFood Tech startups, a 43% year-over-year increase.


1. URBAN AGRICULTURE: More than half of the world’s population lives in cities today. As we consider alternative sources of food and move our production system towards sustainability, we need to rethink food production in cities. 

2. RAINFED AGRICULTURE: More than 75% of the world’s agriculture depends on rainfall. Climate change and its effects have had (and will have) tremendous impact on production, impacting food security and livelihoods. 

3. LIVESTOCK FARMING AND AQUACULTURE: Livestock farming accounts for the food security and livelihoods of almost 1.3 billion people. It is the most environmentally-damaging agriculture sub-sector, as the largest user of land and freshwater resources and significant greenhouse gas emitter. Aquaculture, with its specific challenges around fish feed and freshwater supply, accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world’s food fish. 


1. EXCLUSIVE NETWORK: As a participant in the Cultiv@te programme, you will get international exposure and gather crucial market and cultural intelligence in an emerging market that may otherwise seem inaccessible to you. You will receive mentoring from seasoned corporate and technology leaders and engage with influential policy, decision-makers and solution clients. Event-related travel and accommodation will be covered for 1 representative of each selected startup or R&D team. We estimate a value of well above USD 60,000 for each participant.

2. INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES: A specially-curated group of 25+ potential investors and solution clients, including venture capitalists, MNCs, Governments, UNDP and other development agencies who are partnering Cultiv@te to source innovative solutions and discover talented problem solvers. 

3. PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: Cultiv@te will bring together a diverse set of contributors and partners who share the vision of a more sustainable agriculture sector. Through the ideation and co-design activities planned at country-level you will engage with innovators (startups and researchers) that have complementary expertise and knowledge, giving you plenty of opportunities to discover new collaboration and business opportunities (e.g. commercialisation of R&D, joint ventures, IP licensing). 

4. ADDRESS POLICY AND REGULATORY BARRIER: Connect with leading public and private sector decision makers from 13 countries to highlight (and possibly tackle) policy and regulatory barriers pertinent in your tech solutions as well as barriers to market access in emerging markets where regulation can be patchy or a deterrent to new businesses and investors. 

5. COMMERCIAL VIABILITY VALIDATION: Test the market-readiness and commercial viability of your tech solutions in an emerging market context, adapt to the local needs and pursue the opportunity to scale your solutions with our public and private sector partners who will be keen to see you succeed. 

6. ATTRACTIVE PRIZES: Expected prize money and thematic awards from their partners.



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