Innovation Lab

Innovation Lab


Transformative Research Challenge

Terms and conditions


The World Food Forum (WFF) is an independent global network of partners, created for and led by youth, to spark a movement to transform our agri-food systems. It was developed by the Youth Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and malnutrition.

A Transformative Research Challenge (the “Competition” or “TRC”) is being organized as part of the “Innovation Lab” Track of the WFF: we are calling for young − or young-at-heart − researchers and aspiring researchers with an innovative research idea to help end hunger and transform our agri-food systems to submit a Concept Note as an individual or as a team (“Entrants”). Instructions for submission and these terms and conditions will be accessible on the webpage for the Innovation Lab Track of the WFF.

Part I: Particulars of the Competition

1.    Prizes and benefits

All 10-15 shortlisted teams will receive:

  1. Mentoring: shortlisted teams will receive expert mentorship to help “translate” their Concept Note into a research output (e.g. research proposal for grant funding or research article for publication).
  2. Networking: access to a global audience of young leaders and organizations from the public and private sectors and the United Nations which are participating in or supporting the WFF. 
  3. Visibility: the WFF provides a platform for global youth to showcase their innovative research ideas and approaches to a global audience. Shortlisted Entrants will be featured on the WFF website and have the chance to pitch their research idea to a global audience and an international expert panel through the virtual WFF stage.

 The 8 finalist teams will also receive:

  1. Coaching: each team will receive coaching to prepare a PechaKucha style lightning talks for the virtual WFF stage anticipated to take place in October 2022 in a virtual format.

 The top 3 teams as well as the WFF 2022 Theme Prize will also receive:

  1. TRC Award and certificate.
  2. Press release/web story published by FAO academic partnership site.
  3. Personalized recognition campaign on WFF Social Media handles and website.

 The top 2 teams as well as the WFF 2022 Theme Prize will also receive:

  1. Personalized video on their research idea and journey within the TRC.

 TRC 2022 1st place winner and WFF 2022 Theme Prize will also receive:

  1. Winner of the 2022 TRC will be shortlisted in the selection process of the 2023 Young Scientist Group.
  2. Publication of research finding in one of the FAO’s sectoral publication.
  3. Potential participation in pilot or experiment if there is alignment with an existing FAO country programme or project.

 Anticipated but not guaranteed prizes for the winning teams (subject to funding and approval by WFF and FAO) 

  1. WFF-related profiling: shortlisted teams and the winner(s) of the Transformative Research Challenge may be included in other learning and exposure activitiess associated with the WFF such as a social media campaigns, case studies, and future events.
  2. Awarded money: winner(s) of the Transformative Research Challenge may be awarded prize money.
  3. Accelerator Program: winner(s) of the Transformative Research Challenge may be invited to participate in a “WFF Accelerator” or other program alongside winners of other competitions/tracks organized by the WFF Innovation Lab.


2.    Eligibility

2.1.    The Competition is open to individuals or  teams of up to 5 individuals (“Entrants”), as long as at least one of the entrants has reached the age of 18 and is not older than 35 at the time of submission of their Concept Note. All individuals under the age of 18 must be represented by their parent or legal guardian to submit a Concept Note. The parent or legal guardian must read, understand, and agree to these Terms and Conditions.
2.2.    WFF and FAO employees and their immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, siblings and their respective spouses, regardless of where they live) or persons living in the same households of such employees, whether or not related, are not eligible to enter the Competition. WFF will determine eligibility at its sole discretion. Partners or relatives of partner staff of the institutions involved in the launch of the Competition, and relations of the judging committee are not eligible to compete.
2.3.    Entrants can only submit original works for which they are the sole creators and copyright holders. In case of a group of authors, the names and ages of all authors must be listed and will be considered as a single Entrant in the copyright rules described below, as well as for the prizes and benefits indicated in Section 1.
2.4.    Concept Notes must be submitted as a Word document with a maximum of 2 pages in 12-point text, written in English and contain the following information:

a)    A title with a maximum of 20 words
b)    Approx. 0.5 page description of the individual(s) including a lead contact for communication purposes and the following information for individual: full name, date of birth, gender, contact email, nationality, and academic or organizational affiliation, if any (e.g. employee or student)
c)    Approx. 0.5 page description of the specific issue or problem concerning global agri-food systems that the Concept Note is addressing through the lens of at least one of FAO’s Programme Priority Areas: Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment, Better Life.
d)    Approx. 1 page description of the proposed approach for innovative research to address the issue or problem identified.

2.5.    Each Concept Note submission must be accompanied by the following (i.e. through an online submission form or cover email for submission):

a)    An abstract of maximum 150 words identifying which of FAO’s Programme Priority Areas − Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment, Better Life – they consider the Concept Note is most closely aligned with);
b)    A brief description of the anticipated research output of maximum 150 words (e.g. a research article for publication, a research project proposal for grant funding, a paper or presentation at a scientific conference, a plan for further development, partnership or scaling to transform a research innovation into a tangible solution, etc.) which is anticipated if shortlisted for mentorship to help “translate” the Concept Note.

2.6.    Entrants must accept these Terms and Conditions when submitting a Concept Note.
2.7.    Participation is free of charge.


3.    Process and selection criteria

3.1.    Submissions will be accepted from 6 May 2021 until 6 June 2021, 23:59 (CEST).
3.2.    All finalists and winners will be notified by e-mail after the judging is complete. If you receive a notification e-mail from the WFF, you must respond to the notification e-mail to accept your shortlisting. If WFF does not receive a response from you within seven (7) days of the notification, WFF reserves the right to reallocate the prize to another Entrant.
3.3.    The selection process is divided into the following three phases:
a)    Phase 1: Shortlisting. The first selection round will be done by a panel of experts organized by the WFF TRC organizers, based on the following criteria:
•    Clarity in the identification of the agri-food systems challenge and alignment with FAO’s 4  Programme Priority Areas
•    Clarity and degree of innovation in the research approach proposed to address the challenge
•    Perceived potential for the research approach to transform agri-food systems
b)    Geographic distribution of shortlisted Entrants. Phase 2 Mentorship: Entrants shortlisted in Phase 1 will receive expert mentorship and coaching for their submissions due submission by 30 August 2022. Submissions must take the form of a Word document with a maximum of 5 pages in 12-point text, written in English. A second selection round will be done by a panel of experts organized by the WFF TRC organizers.
c)    Phase 3 Virtual WFF global stage: lightning talks by at least three shortlisted Entrants and selection of the TRC winner will be made at the Virtual WFF global stage in October 2022.

Part II: General terms and conditions

4.    Your Copyright and Moral Rights

4.1.    The WFF respects your rights and do not claim ownership or copyright for works you submit to this Competition. You will retain full ownership and copyright to each entry.
4.2.    In addition, your moral rights are respected. Whenever your work is published by the WFF and its partners, you will be credited. Failure to publish a credit due to error or oversight shall not be deemed a breach of this condition.


5.    Your Representations

5.1.    By submitting works to the WFF, you confirm that for each work submitted:    
a)    You alone are the author of the Concept Note and that it is your original work, and to the best of your knowledge, no third party can claim any rights to the material submitted.
b)    You are the sole copyright holder.
c)    You have not licensed any rights in the work that conflict with the usage rights required by the WFF.
d)    That it does not include trademarks, contract rights, or any other intellectual property rights of any other third person or entity.
e)    You will be responsible for any claim made by any third party in respect of your entry and to fully indemnify the WFF and its sponsors and partners in respect of all royalties, fees and any other monies owing to any person or entity by reason of your breaching any of the foregoing.
5.2.    The WFF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entry that is incomplete, not relevant to the theme, or does not comply with any of the Terms and Conditions and the WFF’s values and guiding principles, even after the entry is submitted.


6.    Unacceptable Content

6.1.    The WFF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any Entrant for content or behavior:
a)    That is disrespectful of the impartiality and independence of the United Nations, reflects adversely on the WFF; is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the WFF; is derogatory to any persons;
b)    That is or could be construed as threatening, false, misleading, abusive, harassing, libelous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, scandalous, inflammatory or profane.
c)    That could constitute or encourage conduct which would be considered a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability, or otherwise violate any law.


7.    Use of Works

7.1.    By participating in this Competition, you agree that any work you submit may be used free of charge by the WFF and their partners for non-commercial marketing and promotional purposes. These uses may include, but are not limited to, the following:
a)    Displaying the Concept Notes entries on the WFF website (and possibly websites of partners) and social media networks, and for the shortlisted teams and winner(s), featuring Team profiles using the information of Entrants submitted in the Concept Note and associated materials including recordings of the presentations at the online virtual WFF global stage event.
b)    Displaying the entries in any media for non-commercial use to promote the work of the WFF.
c)    Extracting, reproducing any component of the work as necessary to promote the work of the WFF and its partners.
d)    Sub-licensing the entries to the press and partners for reproduction in connection with the Competition and the WFF and any related media release on the WFF, the WFF Organizing Team, and its partners.
7.2.    You hereby grant the WFF, the WFF Organizing Team and its partners a non-exclusive, irrevocable, free and perpetual license throughout the world for the non-commercial uses described in 7.1 above, for each Entry.
7.3.    You acknowledge your responsibility for protecting your Entry against misuse by third parties. The WFF and its partners can assume no responsibility and are not liable for any misuse of works.


8.    Miscellaneous

8.1.    WFF reserves the right to cancel, modify, suspend or delay the Competition in the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond their reasonable control. WFF reserves the right to change, amend, delete or add to these Terms and Conditions at any time.
8.2.    WFF and their officials and agents shall not be responsible or liable for any claims, demands, losses and liability of any kind or nature arising out of or in connection with your participation in this Competition or your acceptance or use of the prizes awarded.
8.2.1.    WFF shall not be responsible or liable for:
   a) any problem, loss or damage, misdirected or illegible entries, delay and/or failure in receiving and sending the entry as a result of any network, communication or system interruption or error, or
   b) any error, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, site failure or unauthorised access to entries.
8.3.    WFF does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any data, information or other material provided by any Entrant. WFF explicitly disclaims any responsibility for the content of any data, information and materials provided by the Entrants in the context of the Competition.
8.4.    By entering your Concept Note in the Competition, you agree to indemnify, defend, and hold and save harmless, the WFF, FAO and its partners against all suits, proceedings, claims, demands, losses and liability of any kind or nature brought by any third party against the WFF, including, but not limited to, all litigation costs and expenses, attorney’s fees, settlement payments and damages, based on, arising from, or relating to the WFF’s use of the Concept Note. The obligations under this section do not lapse upon closure of the Competition.
8.5.    By participating in the Competition, Entrants agree that personal data, especially name and country, may be processed, shared, and otherwise used for the purposes and within the context of the Competition, WFF institutional activities, and any other purposes outlined in these Terms and Conditions. The data may also be used by WFF in order to verify the Entrant's identity, postal address and contact details or to otherwise verify the Entrant's eligibility to participate in the Competition.
8.6.    Nothing in these Terms and Conditions or in any rules related to the Competition, nor any acts performed or statements made in relation to the Competition, shall be deemed a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of WFF and FAO.


9.    Acceptance

By submitting entries, the Entrant confirms that the Terms and Conditions for this Competition, as set out above, have been read, understood, and agreed to by the Entrant.

Transformative Research Challenge

An initiative of

FAO Youth