The Inspire Challenge

Data is much more than simply information: in expert hands, it is intelligence.

The rapid growth in processing power and global connectivity means we can now quickly collect, share and analyze enormous amounts of data to reveal new ways to reduce hunger and poverty and develop robust responses to climate change, disease, and land degradation challenges.

The CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture serves to provide leadership in organizing open data, convening partners, and demonstrating the power of big data analytics through inspiring projects.

We are challenging partners, universities, and others to use our data to create incentivized pilot opportunities that scale. We’re looking for novel approaches that democratize these data-driven insights to inform local, national, regional, and global policies on agriculture and food security in real time; helping people–especially smallholder farmers–to lead happier and healthier lives.

The Prize

Winning teams will receive $100,000 to put their ideas into practice. Teams will have 12 months to implement small-scale proof of concept pilots to demonstrate viability. Successful pilots will be placed on the trajectory to wide-scale implementation, including the possibility of receiving an additional $250,000 of funding to facilitate scaling. Successful pilots will also have additional help in finding continued funding and widespread adoption within CGIAR, to ensure that these innovations become a part of how we operate system-wide.










Applications will be reviewed in two rounds; a preliminary assessment and a judging panel.

The preliminary assessment will be managed by the Inspire Challenge management team for their responsiveness to the current state of digital agriculture technology and use cases.

This pre-assessment focuses on three key categories:

  • Meaningful collaboration – leveraging partners’ capabilities to create something more than the sum of its parts
  • Innovativeness of the proposal – how new or groundbreaking the idea is
  • Data mobilization of underused or misused data – especially mobilizing CGIAR data

While the use of CGIAR data streams is encouraged, all forms of CGIAR + outside organization collaboration are applicable for this prize.

Finalists of this pre-assessment will be notified and invited to present their proposals to a panel of judges and their peers at the Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Convention in Nairobi, Kenya from October 3-5, 2018. The judging panel will be comprised of leading industry experts from public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Meaningful collaboration


Data mobilization

Our Inspire Challenges are about ensuring information = impact


All teams participating must be comprised of a variety of actors to ensure a diversity of thought and perspectives. To encourage long-term adoption and easy access to our data, they must include a CGIAR center and be embedded within a CGIAR Research Program.


Inspire Challenges are about solving big problems using next-generation ideas. We’re looking for bold, novel ideas that leverage the expansion of big data and digital technologies to unlock new scientific discoveries or enhance the agriculture development enterprise.

We want innovative ideas with promising potential for social impact that use open data to solve development problems faster, cheaper and with greater efficiency.


We’re looking for big ideas, but recognize that big risks do not always work out. This is why we will be measuring the impact of the approaches developed and systematically learning from successes as well as failures; documenting along the way to help drive future investments in big-data related agricultural innovations.

Lessons learned will be documented and published, alongside policy briefs and best practice guidelines, which will be shared with our network to improve the next generation of big data in agriculture research.

The Platform for Big Data in Agriculture is rooted in global action; managing and sharing vast amounts of agricultural research information- global public goods- around the world, from universities to last mile communities.

Need more information? Check out our frequently asked questions below.