2015 Microsoft/USDA Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience ( $USD 60,000 in Prizes )

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Application Deadline: November 20th 2015

Farmers have long looked to the clouds for signs of relief, but a new competition launched by USDA and Microsoft will tap the Internet cloud to help farmers and our food systems to adapt to climate change. The “Innovation Challenge” is asking software developers to create applications that will use more than 100 years of USDA data to explore how our food system can achieve better food resiliency.

Climate change will likely affect every aspect of the food system—whether it’s the ability to grow food, the reliability of food transportation and food safety efforts, or the dynamics of international trade in agricultural goods


This challenge is open to:

  • Individuals (who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry)
  • Teams of eligible individuals
  • Organizations (up to 50 employees)
  • Large Organizations (with over 50 employees) may compete only for the non-cash Large Organization Recognition Award.
  • Employees of Large Organizations (with over 50 employees) are eligible as long as they enter the competition independent of their company and meet all other requirements.

Employees of the USDA, Microsoft, ChallengePost and contractors currently under contract work for USDA, Microsoft, or ChallengePost are not eligible. 

Working with Microsoft, USDA is for the first time placing key datasets in the hands of people who can help us find new ways to address factors that threaten our ability to feed a growing global population.

Hosting these datasets on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform, allows even very high fidelity and complex models to be processed in a timely manner and enables results to be delivered to remote users on their laptops, tablets or mobile phones.


  • The challenge offers $60,000 in prizes, including a top prize of $25,000, for applications that make use of the USDA data and provide actionable insights to farmers, agriculture businesses, scientists or consumers.
  • In addition, Microsoft is granting cloud-computing awards to aid university researchers and students who wish to take part in the challenge.


What to Create: Submit a working, interactive application that integrates one or more of the required USDA datasets.

Static data visualizations will not be eligible. Applications must include interactive functionality (e.g. the user can change parameters to update the visualization and/or result).

Eligible Platforms:

  • Smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, Windows 8 Mobile)
  • Web (mobile or desktop)
  • Desktop (Windows PC, Mac Desktop)
  • Software running on other publicly available hardware (including, but not exclusive to, wearable technology, open source hardware, etc.)

Supplemental Material: You must submit a demo video (hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Youku) that walks through the main functionality of the application via screencast or video. You must also submit a text description and at least one image/screenshot of your working application.

Testing: You must make your app available for testing by providing a link to access your installation file, an uploaded installation file, a beta distribution build, etc. See full testing access options.

New & Existing Solutions: Apps may be newly created or pre-existing. If the submitted app existed prior to the competition’s submission start date, it must have been updated to integrate the required USDA data during the submission period.

How to enter

  1. Click “Register” to sign up for important challenge communications.
  2. Visit the Resources page for a list of the eligible USDA datasets to get you started.
  3. Create your app!
  4. Shoot your demo video and take screenshots of your functioning app.
  5. Provide a way for us to access your app.
  6. Get started on your draft and submit early!


The deadline for entries is November 20, 2015, giving challenge participants three months to create their applications.

Winners will be announced in December 2015.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Microsoft/USDA Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience

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