Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development Announces Third Call for Innovations

Competition seeks innovations to improve water and food security, gender equality to receive up to $3 million in funding and acceleration support

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 9, 2015

ABU DHABI - Today at the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MFA-NL) announced the third call for groundbreaking innovations under Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development. This $12.5 million global call for proposals has an increased focus on cutting-edge, advanced technologies and business models, as well as innovations that prioritize the engagement of women. As part of USAID's new Middle East Water Security Initiative, up to an additional $2.5 million is expected to be available for innovations implemented in the MENA region.

"By 2050, Global water demand expected to increase by 55 percent, and 70 percent of global water use occurs in food production," said Christian Holmes USAID's Global Water Coordinator. "Through a catalytic use of aid, Securing Water for Food will be able to capture and support the implementation of innovative ideas and new technologies for better water efficiency and sustainable development."

To combat this challenge, Securing Water for Food aims to source and accelerate game-changing solutions that will increase water availability and promote efficient use of water in agriculture. Between 2014 and 2018, the Securing Water for Food partners will direct $32 million to fund and accelerate innovations that can be empowered to bypass existing barriers and disrupt the current water-food security nexus. "The World Economic Forum identified water crises as the number one threat for the world economy in 2015. By stimulating profitable options for water-efficiency in the food chain, the private sector can contribute to curbing these crises," said Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Securing Water for Food seeks exceptional innovations that have already demonstrated success during pilots that go beyond traditional development programs and conventional approaches. In recognizing the crucial role that women play in agricultural value chains, Sida's Senior Policy Specialist Water Resources Management and Sanitation

Ana Gren noted, "Sida believes that the lack of access to water and other resources impacts global development, and in particular decreases possibilities for women's participation within contributions to agricultural production, food security and business opportunities,which are necessary for both innovative and sustainable solutions."

Awardees will receive between $100,000 and $3 million in funding and acceleration support to bring their innovations to scale. Awardees must continually demonstrate their progress through milestone-based funding.

In its inaugural round, Securing Water for Food selected 17 winners out of 520 applications from universities, start-ups, and NGOs in more than 93 countries. Innovations ranged from crops for saline environments to flying water sensor technologies. The second call underSecuring Water for Food, the Desal Prize, is a head-to-head demonstration competition between the six Semi-Finalists' brackish desalination technologies in April 2015.

To learn more about the Securing Water for Food Round 3 call for innovations, and follow @SecuringWater on Twitter.