USA Team AgroSpheres Take Home Kirchner Food Fellowship Prize at Thought For Food Global Summit

AMSTERDAM–Colombian team Cultivando Futuro were named the Grand Prize winners of the Thought For Food (TFF) Challenge, selected by an independent panel of judges to take home the cash prize of $10,000 USD.

Co-Founders Dario Gonzalez, Carlos Castellanos, and Edisson Ballesteros created an information and agro-commerce platform that leverages open data to analyze market trends and provide key information to farmers, wholesale buyers and organizations, while facilitating direct sales between farmers, buyers, and exporters.

Edisson Ballesteros says; “With this money, we aim to register 1000 farmers on the Cultivando Futuro platform. We will also use the money to collect all the data NGOs and farmer unions in Colombia need to make informed decisions about the future.”

In an exciting plot twist, two of Thought For Food’s core values – collaboration and openness – were brought to life when the TFF Challenge Runner-Up team Agrospheres (USA), chose to split their $7500 prize between fellow Finalist teams Sparky (Uganda) and Climate Edge (UK) in a surprise announcement. Agrospheres, who have developed an enzyme delivery system that allows farmers to degrade pesticides in a matter of hours, also won the $5000 Kirchner Food Prize.

Payam Pourtaheri says; “We became so close to every team during the TFF Startup Bootcamp, and decided it’s better to share among everyone because we feel like a family. After spending a week with the teams before the Summit, we understood how Sparky and Climate Edge could benefit their customers with the prize money in the short term. We were not surprised by the support at the Summit because of all the support we received in the weeks before the Summit. TFF is probably the best week in Agrospheres’ career. TFF literally invests in the companies – it’s so much more than many other competitions.”

Team Sparky will use the money to finish the prototype of their thermo-dehydrator for fruits and vegetables, and begin customer trials with smallholder farmers in Uganda. Climate Edge will use the money to finance the latest hardware production of weather sensors to boost their number of paying subscription smallholder farmers in Latin America and Africa.

Winners of the $2500 Borlaug Foundation “Take it to the Farmer” Prize are team From Challenge to Opportunity (India & Switzerland), who will use the money to fulfil the administrative requirements to sell their seaweed-based fertilizer and nutrient-rich cookies. Wastebusters (Malaysia) won the $5000 Syngenta Open Business Model Prize and will use the money to increase their manufacturing capabilities and refine their production process.

Proposals were chosen from nearly 500 applications from over 3000 students, 1000 universities and 130 countries. The prize winners were selected by an expert external panel of judges including; Eric Katz, Co-Founder of Kulisha (2016 TFF Winner); Ashley Lewis, Founder of Invest with Impact, and Mark Durno, Program Director Agritech at Rockstart Accelerator..


$2,500 Take it to the Farmer: From Challenge to Opportunity, India & Switzerland
$5,000 Syngenta Open Business Model: Wastebusters, Malaysia
$5,000 Kirchner Food Prize: AgroSpheres, USA
$7,500 Second Runner-up: AgroSpheres – Prize to be split between finalists Sparky, Uganda and Climate Edge, UK
$10,000 Grand Prize Winner: Cultivando Futuro, Colombia

Thought for Food
TFF is the world’s leading platform for Next Generation Thinking, Collaboration and Innovation for global food security. TFF brings people together across sectors, disciplines, cultures and generations to create opportunities for new ideas and solutions to flourish.

The annual TFF Challenge is the world’s largest open competition for university students who are building the future of food and agriculture. Student teams are empowered with tools and mentorship, and submit proposals which seek to answer the question: How do we feed 9+ billion people by 2050?

Find TFF on social media at @tffchallenge.

Thought For Food
Alexandra Connerty
+45 91754551
+44 7541 214246

Kirchner Food Fellowship
The Kirchner Food Fellowship, a Kirchner Impact Foundation initiative, is an innovative, hands-on impact investment program that harnesses the power of millennials to find, fund and assist promising socially responsible agricultural businesses. The program provides capital and unprecedented hands on training in capital allocation for university students. The program applies a problem-based learning and solutions approach with the goal to enhance capital efficiency, lessen deployment costs, shorten time frames and increase the likelihood of investment success.

Steve Dauphin
Kirchner Food Fellowship