Innovation Olympics 2.0 focuses on new farming tech

  • 4 November 2020, Wednesday
  • Source/s: Malaya

Rise Up, Young Innovators: Innovation Olympics 2.0 opens nationwide

Along with the wave of changes that this new normal has been bringing, innovative technology solutions also 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," shared Dr. Glenn Baticados, Director of the University of the Philippines Los Baños Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPLB-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 October 23, 2020.

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

From the total of thirty 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 culmination of the competition will be conducted 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. With this competitive spirit, young innovators are challenged 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, the Director of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

Gregorio also added that while the new normal challenged the agricultural sector, it also paved a way for more innovations to be developed and employed to help our food producers and address the needs of our 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 as part of its 35th anniversary celebration.

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

Through this innovation, they aim to address the challenges of vegetable farmers in having direct access and information with their market. Through Innovation Olympics, the team was able to not only showcase their idea but also to 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," said 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 not just in agriculture but in all fields: "Innovate or die."

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.