New York, NY–Last September, FoodShot Global, a collaborative capital investment platform, asked entrepreneurs, researchers, and advocates to submit their business, research or policy proposals for the Innovating Soil 3.0 Challenge. The goal of the challenge, according to a press release, was to identify the breakthrough research, game-changing technologies, and innovative business models that can shift agriculture to a soil operating system that will support the planet. FoodShot Global explained that the winners are providing technological or ecological tools that enable farmers to maximize yield and help improve the long-term health of the land.
“I founded FoodShot Global envisioning a new way to harness the power of innovation, capital, and the collaborative spirit of the world’s leading stakeholders to effect change,” said Victor Friedberg, FoodShot Global Founder and Chairman, in the release. “We chose to start with soil because any future that imagines 10 billion people eating healthy and sustainably with equal access will require healthy soil.”
Trace Genomics, one of four winners of the challenge, received an investment from FoodShot Venture Partner, S2G Ventures. The San Francisco Bay area startup, founded in 2015, has developed an AI-enabled diagnostic tool for farmers that increases yields and reduces costs, according to the release. The company is building a body of soil intelligence designed to make thousands of growers experts on what’s underground.
Additionally, the $535,000 GroundBreaker Prize was awarded to 3 individuals doing work in soil health to support a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system. Their efforts and achievements were outlined in the release:
Dr. Keith Paustian was awarded $250,000 to accelerate the global adaptation of his COMET tool systems. This technology provides farmers and land managers with sustainability metrics that can be used for decision support, as well as providing the information necessary to effectively implement policies that promote regenerative and conservation-based agricultural practices at scale.
Dr. Gerlinde De Deyn was awarded a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to advance her work connecting plant biodiversity in space and time. Her research uses trait-based approaches to gain a mechanistic understanding of plant-soil interactions and their feedback to ecosystem functioning, including productivity, nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and soil carbon sequestration.
Dr. Dorn Cox was awarded a $35,000 GroundBreaker “Seed” Prize to support his vision of using a collaborative Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM) to democratize access to environmental data and provide universal access to site-specific global agricultural knowledge.
The FoodShot winners will receive guidance, mentorship, and capacity-building resources for maximum impact and scale.