Convention Highlights

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how thousands of small crises can unfold differently, and in different ways, around the world. Digital dynamism opens up the possibility of moving beyond simplified models of the world, to being able to hyperlocalize, to understand changes in fluid and dynamic contexts, and to act with agility and precision amidst that complexity.

For the 2020 convention theme, Digital Dynamism for Adaptive Food Systems, we examined food system resilience and highlighted how digital tools and technologies can help us sense, respond and (re)build better systems in times of global food security crises.

Key takeaways

Digital Dynamism across One CGIAR
Open, data-driven collaboration is powerful
Inclusivity and access
Collective global action

At a glance


with 1300 participants actively engaging through the Whova platform


including 50% of women

companies, organizations & institutions

75% of registrants were non-CGIAR

audience reach


to 7 Inspire projects

Digital dynamism across One CGIAR

The 2020 virtual CGIAR Convention on Big Data in Agriculture was the first One CGIAR convention. The event highlighted how CGIAR’s 13 global research centers are employing dynamic digital methods to combat food security challenges flowing from current crises. 

Various CGIAR centers created glimpse videos to highlight their scientific innovations for food, land and water systems can be deployed faster, at a larger scale, and at reduced cost, having greater impact where they are needed the most:

AfricaRice: Helping rice farmers in Africa with big data and digital tools

Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT: Putting agricultural tools and information in the hands of farmers

International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA): Harnessing integrated digital tools to accelerate agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

International Potato Center (CIP): Leveraging big data and technologies to conserve genetic biodiversity, develop new crop varieties, and improve agronomic decision-making

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI): Testing new techniques and improving access to equipment for farmers in order to ensure food security

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT): Using cutting edge technologies in order to create resilient and adaptive food systems

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT): Increasing the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems using data-driven approaches to agricultural research

International Water Management Institute (IWMI): Researching methods of harvesting, using, and deploying diverse data innovations to achieve a water-secure world

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA): Responding to the climate crisis through dynamic digitization of its research for development

WorldFish: Driving aquatic foods research with data and digital technologies


The 2020 Inspire Challenge


120 applications

7 winners

US$700K awarded


Most ever pilot projects awarded

Seven groundbreaking, big data projects were selected as winners of CGIAR’s 2020 Inspire Challenge at the convention. The seven finalists were chosen from a group of 15 finalists projects–the largest cohorts of Inspire Challenge finalists and pilot awards to date.
The virtual space allowed us to showcase this record-setting number of highly qualified finalists, in which almost all of the 13 CGIAR Centers are represented. Project teams pitched live during the convention to a panel of expert judges that included: Sieglinde Snapp (Michigan State University), Rhiannan Price (DevGlobal Partners), Cheryl Palm (University of Florida), Dina Najjar (ICARDA), and Chong Kean Ng (Asian Development Bank).
In light of this year’s food system shocks due to the recent pandemic, the 2020 Inspire Challenge evaluation included specific COVID-19 response, recovery, and resilience metrics added to the judging rubric. Applications were received under four categories: Sustaining Farm Income, Measuring and Building Resilience, Sensing and Renewing Ecosystems, and Revealing Food Systems, with the latter two being co-designed with funders to specifically address pandemic-related challenges.

During the live awards ceremony, grants of US$100,000 were awarded to the 7 following projects:

“The 2020 Inspire winners aim to create more resilient food value chains in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate shocks. Projects such as these will help assure safer food, collect much needed ‘real time’ diet diversity information for tracking and targeting malnutrition, and their experimentation with AI platforms such as IBM Watson will help provide advisory messages at times that extension agents cannot get to the field. It will be exciting to see how these innovative teams roll out their projects.”

Inspire judge Cheryl Palm, Research Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and a core faculty of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Florida.

Tech demos

Inclusivity and access