What was Next Generation Programme all about?
The theme of the 14th IUPAC International Congress of Crop Protection was “Crop Protection: Education of the Future Generation”. Ghent University, as the academic institution and host of the conference, initiated a programme to engage the next generation of plant protection leaders and showcase the next generation’s crucial role in the future of agriculture. Two elements made up the Programme:
The Next Generation Agri Summit (19-24 May 2019). Sponsored by CropLife International, the Agri Summit offered an innovative program developed by and for young agricultural students and researchers interested and engaged in all aspects of crop protection. It ran parallel with the IUPAC International Congress, offering a unique opportunity to engage with world-renowned leaders in plant protection as well as engage in topics specifically wanted by youth.
N-GAGE champions: N-GAGE (Next Generation Agricultural Innovators) was an IUPAC 2019 pilot project to select up to 5 promising young agricultural innovators to join the Agri Summit, receive seed funding for their project idea and one-year of mentorship and training opportunities.
The selection process
There was a phenomenal response to the call for submissions. Over 600 ideas and innovations on sustainable crop protection, from all over the world, were received. 187 of these were posted on the IUPAC Next Generation website.
There were two stages in the selection process. The first was based on the appreciation of each submission by the online public. In view of the large number of submissions the judging panel took on the task of reviewing the top scored proposals.
Each panel member reviewed and attributed a score from 1 to 5 (1 is poor and 5 is excellent) to the pre-selected submissions. This was “a score”, not “a ranking”, so they could allocate e.g. a “3” to as many as they wanted.
The instructions to the judging panel were to score each of the pre-selected submissions, using the following criteria:
- Originality of the project or idea (it’s innovation potential or novelty)
- Completeness: how “complete” the submission is based on what was asked for in the “how to apply” guidelines (e.g clear steps on how the idea/project will be done, measurable outcomes, success factors, motivation).
- Feasible/Realistic: can the idea/project be realistically implemented
- Socio-economic impact: we asked that submissions demonstrate a positive social impact (e.g. increasing knowledge generating employment, developing skills, reducing poverty). The idea/project should be benefiting more than just the person who submitted it.
- Sustainability: economically viable (now and in the longer term) and potentially with a reduced footprint
- Is it a winner?: As a jury member, what is the likelihood you would allocate fund this idea/project €5,000.
- Scientific rigour: reliable and trustworthy information, robust and unbiased design, methodology and analysis.
- How constructive and substantial were the comments received on the submissions; were most comments just “good job” or were there substantial conversations initiated.
We then tallied the scores from each jury member, for each submission, and came to a total score for each, determining the participants for the Next Generation Agri-Summit (50) and the N-GAGE champions (5).
What came next?
Those selected for the Next Generation Agri-Summit were offered a fully sponsored trip to Ghent to participate in life-changing week of learning, networking and fun. The primary goals of the Agri-Summit were to:
- empower young scientists to explore innovative ideas to promote sustainable crop protection,
- provide youth with the tools to build and engage in impactful projects, and
- foster dialogue between youth and world-renowned speakers, academia, experts from the industry, policymakers and many others attending the IUPAC Conference.
Attending the Agri-Summit offered opportunities to engage directly with peers from around the world in an engaging and stimulating program designed by youth for youth. The Agri-Summit featured topics selected through an open call for ideas from young scientists and included workshops, innovation labs, social media training, a knowledge-sharing café and an entrepreneurship competition.
The judging panel also selected the following as the N-GAGE champions:
Modern crop protection using tools farmers have at hand (Simon Appeltans)
The management of plant diseases using botanicals and ICT in Nigeria (Apolowo Oluropo Ayotunde)
Drone technology to tackle pests in Botswana (Antonette Ncube)
The N-GAGE Champions each got a €5,000 seed fund to facilitate their project, spread over the period of one year. For one year, they are being mentored, linking them with seasoned researchers and practitioners. They are also receiving training on new ways to advocate and network using innovative communication and networking tools.
The champions joined the other 45 sponsored winners and attended the Next Generation Agri-Summit (19-24 May) in Ghent, Belgium and had the opportunity to network with agricultural specialists from all over the world at the IUPAC International Conference.
A big “Thank you” again to all youth who submitted their ideas, to the online public in responding with so many comments, to our sponsors, the judging panel, and all those involved in the Next Generation Programme.