CGIAR’s Inspire Challenge Awards Over US$ 1 million to Big Data Innovations

Winners of the Inspire Challenge with Mr S Niranjan Reddy, Agriculture Minister, Telangana.

Over US$ 1 million worth of grants were awarded to eight winners of the Inspire Challenge during CGIAR’s 2019 BIG DATA convention that was organized at ICRISAT last week.

Four finalists of this year’s challenge were awarded US$ 100,000 each for piloting their project. Hungry cities: Inclusive food markets in Africa; Real-time East Africa live groundwater use database; Gamifying weather forecasting: “Let it rain” campaign; and Rapid genomic detection of aquaculture pathogens were declared winners among 10 finalists of the 2019 challenge. The finalists were selected from over 150 applicants from across the world.

Four grants totaling US$ 625,000 were also awarded to past years’ winners. Pest and disease monitoring by using artificial intelligence, a project partnered by CRP Roots, Tubers and Bananas, CIP, Bioversity International, IITA, PennState and Google, was awarded the winning grant of US$ 250,000. Revealing informal food flows through free WiFi; An integrated data pipeline for small-scale fisheries; and Using Commercial Microwave Links (CML) to estimate rainfalls were the other past winners who were awarded scale-up grants of US$ 125,000 each.

Mr S Niranjan Reddy, Agriculture Minister of the Indian state of Telangana, gave the awards on the final day of the convention.

“Data has been available and research has been using it but it is time to bring it all together to propel agriculture further as the demand for food grows. I am certain the convention will help pave the way for institutions to come together for this purpose,” he said.

The Inspire Challenge seeks to recognize groundbreaking innovations that use big data approaches to advance agricultural research with real potential for developmental impact. These innovations have to demonstrate meaningful partnerships with CGIAR and other sector members. Pitch presentations of this year’s finalists took place at ICRISAT, where the three-day convention was organized by CGIAR’s Platform for Big Data in Agriculture. The convention saw participation of over 650 delegates representing scientific institutions, academia, private organizations and governmental organizations.

Mr Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary to Telangana Government, had underscored the importance of trust in Big Data during his keynote address. Delegates discussed open data systems and platforms that can facilitate trust, blockchain technologies to transform food systems, advances in digital agriculture across the world, filling gaps in datasets and a unified information architecture for the CGIAR.

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