Focus on Food System Challenges

World's largest student competition on agriculture launched

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced the launch of the 2014 Agricultural Innovation Prize. In collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the competition is open to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students across all academic disciplines. The program runs through spring 2014, when teams will compete for the chance to win a grand prize of $100,000. At over $200,000 in total cash awards, this is the largest student-focused competition on agriculture in the world.

The competition encourages student teams to develop innovative ways and real-world plans to address social and agricultural challenges within food systems to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s population.

The Agricultural Innovation Prize was inspired by the upcoming release of the book 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, written by Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Co-authored by Howard W. Buffett and with a foreword by Warren Buffett, 40 Chances chronicles Howard G. Buffett’s evolving views of how philanthropy, government, and the private sector can best combat hunger and poverty across the globe.

“Considering the complexity and scale of agricultural problems in the United States and around the world, I am thrilled that this program will encourage students across the country to come up with solutions they are empowered to implement,” said Howard W. Buffett at the launch event.

“This is an opportunity for communities across the country to come together and address 21st century agriculture challenges by inspiring, educating, and nurturing the next generation of agriculture innovators and entrepreneurs,” noted Cathie Woteki, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics.

The prize will be administered by students from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and will be run in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. “It’s all about innovation – from idea to execution,” said Professor Molly Jahn, who leads efforts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on the student-driven prize. “This is the type of contest that spans across entire universities, not just for departments that have been historically identified as related to agriculture.”

Student entries are due February 28, 2014. More information about the competition is available at, and at

Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID), a transdisciplinary research institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, comprises a community of thinkers that believes the problems society faces don’t come in academic boxes, so neither should their solutions.

WID promotes theoretical and experimental laboratory research, numerous collaborative programs, engagement with entrepreneurial communities, the humanities and the arts, and public events designed for the benefit of society at large.

To learn more, visit, or find us on Facebook at and Twitter at @WIDiscovery.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation works to improve the quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations – including the nearly one billion men, women, and children who lack basic food security. 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World chronicles Chairman and CEO Howard G. Buffett’s evolving views on combating hunger and poverty.

To learn more, visit, or find us on Facebook at, and Twitter at @40Chances.

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