Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article, which means it’s independently written by our editorial team but financially supported by another organisation, in this case, Feed the Future. If you would like to learn more about sponsored posts on Tech.eu, read this and contact us if you’re interested in partnering with us.

We’ve probably all heard this by now: there will be 10 billion people on Earth in 2050, and feeding them all in a sustainable way is a daunting task. With hundreds of acceleration programs, conferences, and competitions for foodtech and agritech companies across the world, it feels like we know the main technological trends in the industry.

That’s why Lely, a Dutch family-owned dairy farming company with a long history of innovation, has decided to look beyond the foodtech to find “the next big thing.” The company has teamed up with the Rockstart accelerator to launch Feed the Future by Lely, a competition for startups whose technologies could be applied to the challenges dairy farming is facing today.

The challenge, with the main cash prize of €15,000 and strategic investment from Lely, is there to drive cross-industry innovation.

“We really should understand the problems and challenges on a dairy farm and find solutions, of which the farmer doesn’t know he or she needs them yet,” said Alexander van der Lely, CEO at Lely. “We are always searching for technologies that we can apply in the agricultural sector.”

Alexander van der Lely, CEO at Lely

The challenge

The applications for Feed the Future are open until October 6 for any startup that can show at least a proof of concept or MVP of its product. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with dairy farming — but, of course, should be somehow applicable. One way or the other, if you feel like your product could fit the bill — go ahead and apply now.

The 10 best startups will be flown to the Netherlands for the final stage on November 20 and 21 at the Lely Campus. The winner will get the €15,000 cash prize and the unique chance to collaborate with Lely, one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Looking beyond the money

That latter part is the most important in the challenge. As a major player in the farming automatisation and robotisation industry, Lely can become an extremely important partner for a startup whose technology can drive positive change in this vertical.

“Startups are very important for our future,” Van der Lely said. “We devote a lot of time to develop innovations, but we cannot do this all by ourselves. There are many more new technologies coming out in the world. That’s why we really want to combine our creative energy with the creative energy of startups to find new ingenious solutions in dairy farming.”

The winner of the challenge will get an opportunity to secure a strategic partnership with Lely, which can both open the door into the farming industry and provide further investment to scale the product further. Also, Lely and Rockstart will coach the winner to identify key challenges and connect with relevant business contacts, investors, and mentors.

In addition to that, Lely itself has a long history of driving innovation from an idea to an industry standard. The company started 70 years ago with two inventions, the power harrow and the finger wheel rake, which are still being used in agriculture. The company employs a 40-strong innovation team, which will work together with the winner of the challenge to bring the product to the market.

Applications for Feed the Future by Lely are open until October 6 — check out the website for details and apply to win €15,000 and a chance to work with some of the best farming industry innovators in Europe!