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sustainable cotton

Help us pioneer sustainable cotton tech: Apply to The Better Cotton Innovation Challenge 

December 5, 2019

Here’s a heads-up: The Better Cotton Innovation Challenge (BCIC) is up and running, and is now fielding applications for ideas on how to help make the world’s cotton industry more sustainable.

The global situation right now is stark. Cotton supports the livelihoods of over 250 million people, yet less than 20% of cotton is grown sustainably.

The Better Cotton Innovation Challenge is on the lookout for global game-changing innovations. So if you have ideas relating to anything from design thinking to machine learning, or from behavioural nudge strategies to satellite-based technologies, the Challenge wants to hear from you. It will take all manner of technologies to truly transform cotton production.

Innovators, impact investors, and brands are welcome to apply by filling a simple application form at The deadline is 15 January 2020.

The Innovation Challenge is hosted by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world, in partnership with IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and with support from Dalberg Advisors.

By launching the Innovation Challenge, BCI and IDH are looking to scale sustainable cotton production by seeking disruptive ideas in two main categories:

• Innovations to customize Better Cotton training for cotton farmers. 

• Innovations to reduce the time and cost of data collected for Better Cotton licensing processes. 

Initial benchmarking has revealed that up to a ‘5X’ performance gain is possible in these activities based on innovations and methods in adjacent spaces. Additionally, the solutions that the Challenge unearths are likely to apply to other segments of the cotton value chain and also other agriculture certification programs and could lead to wider sustainability transformation.

(The lack of innovation in the cotton sector is apparently by the lack of articles about focused cotton technologies on AFN.)

Sustainable cotton challenge

Launched on 20 November, the Challenge will run in three stages until 31th May 2020. The first stage invites a wide range of innovators from across the world to submit applications with their unique ideas and solutions. The second round will invite shortlisted participants to submit more detailed proposals, and the third stage will have up to five participants carrying out rapid field trials to test their innovation.

“IDH & the Better Cotton Growth & Innovation Fund work on identifying and implementing innovative ideas to ensure adoption of better cotton farming principals. We have partnered with Dalberg on the Challenge to identify solutions which will help us deepen the impact on farmers and accelerate the adoption of sustainable cotton globally” said Pramit Chanda, Country Director IDH, at the launch event.

“Better Cotton has grown in scale in the past decade, but to continue to increase share in the global cotton production, innovation is a necessity. This Challenge is a great way to birth new ideas and foster their implementation’ said a team member from BCI India.

Up to €135,000 cash prize and a chance to scale

The winners will receive a cash prize of up to €135,000 ($147,000) and the chance to scale their innovation with more than 2 million BCI farmers across 21 countries. Participants being shortlisted in the second and third rounds will be provided virtual immersion, targeted mentoring and support by experts.
“The Better Cotton Challenge can unearth non-obvious approaches to accelerate sustainable cotton farming and we are excited to see a range of innovators submitting their ideas.” said Nirat Bhatnagar, Partner at Dalberg Advisors, leading the strategy and implementation of the Challenge.
Additionally, the Challenge brings concrete opportunities for sponsoring some of the innovations the events generate. The Challenge team also invites partnerships from impact investors, philanthropists, and apparel and food brands focused on these themes.


Apply here before the 15 January 2020 deadline.

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