In an age when agriculture technologies and innovations have accelerated dramatically, DuPont Pioneer has launched their initiative to invite wider and deeper collaboration with scientists and innovators around the world, at both public and private institutions. Mat Müller, Director of Business Development, and an Ag Innovation Showcase advisory committee member and his colleagues seek to solve immediate problems and make available to their collaborators the powerful tools that exist today in genomic sequencing, genome editing, and field evaluation.
The cost of DNA technologies including genome sequencing and data analysis tools have come down so far as to democratize their application beyond the big ag companies. This democratization gives smaller players an opportunity to apply the technologies to crops and traits that appeal to markets of various sizes, providing both farmers and consumers what they need and want. This broader application of technologies should help the industry as a whole to develop the “social license” to practice genome editing for public benefit and offer the opportunity to avoid mistakes made in the 1990’s around GMOs and the polarization that resulted in public opinion. One way DuPont Pioneer hopes to accelerate this democratization of technology is through collaborations enabled by Open Innovation.
DuPont Pioneer anticipates their initiative will expand and amplify the efforts of their internal R&D teams to solve problems and make advances in agriculture more quickly, more creatively, and more effectively through new collaborations. Their Open Innovation initiative builds on a long commitment to science and technology, beginning right from the start of the Pioneer Hi-Bred company that Henry Wallace built in the 1920’s to commercialize corn bred from hybrid crosses of inbred parents.
The DuPont Pioneer team launched their website in June 2017 with a Challenge to create algorithms that automate with greater than 99% accuracy the classification of scatter plots that have been previously either manually scored or autoscored with lower accuracy. Response rates were very promising with more than 480 innovators picking up the challenge and dozens of solutions submitted in August. These solutions are now undergoing evaluation.
DuPont Pioneer believes that the global scientific community can do truly innovative work when it collaborates, and they invite the ag innovation community to join forces to develop sustainable solutions for agriculture challenges. The size of the award for current grant opportunities ($5,000-50,000), is suitable to provide additional support for a graduate student project in an academic lab and as an initial exploration for potential longer-term collaborative relationships.