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Young Innovator Challenge

How can conventional agriculture and novel foods work in collaboration rather than being in competition ?

This challenge is for students and young professionals to propose new ways of thinking on this topic. 

How it works:


  1. The prize pools will be announced in January 2024.

  2. Participants are between ages 10 and 35.

  3. Only one submission per participant.

  4. submissions include 1 essay (max 5000 words), and a video presentation (max 10 minutes), figures and art can be included.

  5. the YIC opens on Jan 2024, and submissions are due on 20th April 2024 (no late submissions accepted).

  6. A board of revieweres will be selected by Cx Bio.

  7. Decisions of winners will be announced in Summer 2024.

  8. Proposal that offer roadmaps for implementation behind their vision will be preferred.


We are facing population growth and a growing appetite for proteins in our diets, as well as growth of protein intake in developing countries. In addition, protein supply is increasingly more fragile due to climate change. Novel foods are critical to nourish the increasingly rich global population sustainably while helping us to preserve scarce resources such as land, soil, water, and biodiversity.


Yet, for the potential positive impacts of novel foods to be fully materialized, the incumbents whose livelihoods depend on the agrifood system should not be neglected. Food and agriculture represent strong cultural heritage as well as the source of income for millions or even billions of people. Therefore novel foods should not be aimed at disrupting these people's lives without appropriate mitigation strategies, otherwise it is socially unsustainable.

The agrofood system is being significantly impacted by emerging trends in alternative proteins. It will be a challenge to redesign our food system, and in order to create non-polarized food production we must seek solutions on how to integrate novel technologies into regenerative agriculture. We must work synergistically with the current agrifood system, not in opposition to it. We must avoid polarizing vitriolic arguments that oversimplify complex issues.

The failure to take millions’ of livelihoods into consideration and to leverage on the deep understanding of farmers would be counter-effective for developing a more sustainable food system.


How do we bring these worlds together? How do we redesign a system where novel technologies could contribute to farmers' livelihood and welfare and in which farmers will be able to contribute their deep industry knowledge to technology development and implementation? Can alternative foods help in soil regeneration and help farmers overcome and prevent climate change? How can alternative foods find synergy with traditional agriculture and help farmers preserve and grow their incomes?

These are some of the questions the first YIC aims to uncover.

Submission portal will appear here in Jan 2024

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