Aquaculture for all

Startups sought for $170,000 Soy Innovation Challenge

Biotechnology Feed ingredients Startups +3 more

Applications are open for a $170,000 competition that aims to challenge companies to create innovations that increase the use and value of soybean meal in existing markets, including the aquafeed sector.

a farmer in a field of soy
USB and the Yield are looking to develop more products from soy meal

Increasing levels of soy are being planted for their oil, which will mean more soy meal is available for sectors such as the aquafeed industry © The United Soybean Board

Called the Soy Innovation Challenge, it is the brainchild of The United Soybean Board (USB) and The Yield Lab Institute (YLI).

“Soybean oil demand is increasing as a feedstock for renewable energy, creating unique opportunities for soybean farmers. But an increase in expanded crush for oil means higher meal supply. With US soybean meal’s strong reputation as a high value product, additional pathways are necessary to advance consumption both domestically and internationally,” said Ralph Lott, USB chair and farmer from New York, in a press release.

The Soy Innovation Challenge aims to enhance the value of soybean meal in existing markets and uses by targeting:

  • Innovations that increase use and value for soybean meal in animal agriculture, aquaculture, pet foods and soyfoods for human consumption.
  • Innovations that advance the commercial viability of existing uses and segments in both food and feed spaces, overcoming the technical challenges of increasing soybean meal usage.
  • Innovations that advance the transportability and storage viability of soybean meal.

“With clear sustainability differentiators, such as soil health and land stewardship, this competition has the potential to create unique revenue streams for US soybean farmers in meeting customers’ evolving preferences,” said Mac Marshall, USB vice president of market intelligence. “Sustainability is the future of our industry, and these new innovations will enhance the profit opportunities for our farmers.”

Soybean meal is used as a feed ingredient for animal agriculture. These markets are limited by demand constraints of poultry and livestock volume, competition from alternative ingredients, storage capacity and transportation challenges. The Soy Innovation Challenge aims to solve these problems.

The application period is open until 6 December. USB and YLI invite ag-tech startups, project/research teams and groups to submit applications online. This includes entities that operate in the soybean meal value chain and have an innovative solution that can enhance known uses and markets of soybean meal. The challenge is sponsored by USB and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The selected teams will compete for:

  • $170,000 in cash prizes, courtesy of USB.
  • $5,000 in in-kind technical services and credits per finalist courtesy of AWS.
  • Gene-editing and transgenic plant generation/transformation among other research services, courtesy of Solis Agrosciences.
  • All selected teams will receive mentoring and resources to help advance their ideas in the areas of technical, business and financial impact.

“With a favourable market for soy, an increased interest in enhancing the existing value of soybean meal is often forgotten in the equation. This innovation challenge will uncover ideas and technologies that will drive more value for soybean meal and its constituents within existing markets and uses. There is an opportunity for soybean meal to drive more economic and nutritional value to feed, particularly in growing markets like aquaculture. This is truly an exercise in circular economy and optimising the bean,” said Brandon Day, COO of YLI.

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