Rise up, young innovators: Innovation Olympics 2.0 is on

Along with the wave of changes that this new normal has brought, innovative technology solutions take the center stage in the Innovation Olympics 2.0, an “agri hackathon” for young innovators to rise up in developing innovative solutions for the farming sector of the country.

“Through the Innovation Olympics, we hope to introduce technological innovations to improve vegetable production, and to inspire the youth to consider farming as a professional goal and be ambassadors of modern day agriculture,” said Henk Hermans, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines.

With this year’s theme “Precision agriculture for small-scale vegetable farming,”Innovation Olympics 2.0 serves as an avenue where students can share, create, and pilot new technology solutions for urban and rural smallholder vegetable farmers. Online training and demonstrations, and actual implementation of the projects in farming communities, along with seed money for each stage, will be given to the participating teams.

“Precision agriculture aims to increase the profitability of farmers while sustaining the environment through employing more efficient and new technologies in crop production. Through the Innovation Olympics, we envision developing creative ideas on precision agriculture that can help our smallholder farmers,” said Glenn Baticados, director of the UPLB Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO).

“Millennials can get interested in agriculture through the Internet of Things (IoT), precision agriculture, and artificial intelligence,” added Joel Laserna, President of FarmFix Solutions Inc, during his keynote speech at the online launching of the Innovation Olympics 2.0 on Oct. 23.

Undergraduate and graduate students from any university in the Philippines, who can form a team of at least three members per team, are welcome to join the competition.

From 30 participating teams that will receive P10,000 ideation money each, two finalists from each region will then be selected to implement their projects with P100,000 seed money each.

The competition will culminate during the National Demo Day in June 2021, where the six finalists will vie for the grand prize of P200,000 after a panel of experts evaluate the implementation and impact of their innovative solutions.

By promoting this competitive spirit, Innovation Olympics challenges young innovators to step up the game for the country’s agricultural sector by imparting new farming practices and systems to the smallholder vegetable farmers.

“During this time, the agricultural sector is the most affected and at the same time the most appreciated. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures that’s why we have Innovation Olympics 2.0. This will lead us to a better, bigger, and smarter new normal for agriculture,” said Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

Dr. Gregorio added that while the new normal challenges the agricultural sector, it also paves the way for more innovations to be developed and employed to help food producers and address the needs of consumers in this unprecedented time.

“We value agricultural innovation that taps into the ingenuity of local communities and harnesses the creativity and imagination of young people,” added Dr. Vergel Concibido, Global Agronomy Lead of Sensient Colors, LLC.

Youth and innovation

Innovation Olympics was launched by East-West Seed, together with the UPLB-College of Economics and Management, Center for Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship, and APEX: The UPLB Business Network, in 2017 to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

Bagging the top innovative technology at the first Innovation Olympics was Team Agriviz, a group of students from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). They won P250,000 cash prize for“Bukid Fresh,” formerly known as “E-Magsasaka,” an e-commerce platform that they developed and tested in their adopted farming community.

Through this innovation, they aimed to address the challenges vegetable farmers face in getting direct access and information to their market. Through Innovation Olympics, the team was able to not only showcase their idea, but also turn it into reality in their adopted farming community.

“I encourage all the young innovators to take this opportunity to develop your game-changing projects and help transform the “new normal” in our food and agriculture sector. We believe in your talents and we know that, together, we can make a lasting difference in this sector and in the lives of our farmers,” urged Hermans.

Anton Marañon, vice president of SAGREX Corporation and also one of the keynote speakers during the Innovation Olympics launching, reminded how important innovation is in agriculture, as in all other fields. “Innovate or die,” he reminded.

The Innovative Olympics is made possible through the partnership of East-West Seed with SEARCA, Sensient Colors LLC, UPLB, UPLB-TTBDO, UP SIBOL LAB, and APEX: The UPLB Business Network.

For this year’s Innovation Competition 2.0, East-West Seed will be accepting applications until Nov. 7, 2020 . Application can be sent via https://tinyurl.com/IO2Application . For more information, please visit fb.com/InnovationOlympics.
For photos and videos, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/IO2PRPhotos

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