Innovation Challenge

In November 2019, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), with the support of Dalberg Advisors, launched the Better Cotton Innovation Challenge – a global project seeking innovative ideas and solutions to improve sustainable cotton farming practices around the world.

The Challenge was divided into two categories:

Challenge One: Customised Training
Challenge one sought innovations to help bring customised training on more sustainable farming practices to hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers across the globe.

Challenge Two: Data Collection
Challenge two sought solutions that could reduce the time and cost of farmer data collection to enable more efficient BCI licensing processes.

A total of 87 applications were submitted before the January 2020 deadline – 36 applications for the customised training challenge, and 51 applications for the data collection challenge.

We are delighted that the Challenge received such a high level of interest from organisations all over the world. Thank you to those who took the time to submit thoughtful, creative and practical solutions.” – Cristina Martin, Programme Manager, BCI.

All 87 applications were reviewed by the Innovation Challenge Team, and the top 20 solutions were shortlisted to progress through to the next stage of the challenge. The 20 shortlisted applicants – from India, Pakistan, Greece, Israel, Kenya, Australia and the US – received mentorship from cotton sector experts and BCI as they prepared high-quality, detailed proposals for their solutions, including plans to test their innovations at field level.

A jury composed of external experts, alongside BCI, IDH and Dalberg, then assessed the detailed applications and selected five final candidates to progress to the next phase of on-the-ground trials.

When shortlisting the solutions, the jury considered:

  • Impact: Is the solution effective?
  • Adaptive: Is it adaptive and flexible?
  • Scalable: Is it scalable and replicable?
  • Viability: Is it financially viable and sustainable?
  • Capability: Is the team capable of implementing the solution?
  • Pragmatic: Is the on-the-ground test being proposed practical?
  • X-Factor: Is it novel and new to the BCI programme?

In the next stage of the competition, the five applicants will have the opportunity to pilot their sustainability-focused solutions in the field with BCI Farmers.

In light of the spread of Covid-19 and global travel restrictions, the field-testing element of the Challenge has been postponed until July 2020 in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone involved in the Better Cotton Innovation Challenge. We look forward to continuing this exciting competition with our finalist innovators, and sharing their solutions, later in the year.” – Cristina Martin, Programme Manager.

Find out more about the challenge here.

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