Masdar News

CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge launched to help build resilience in food supply chains

25 May 2020
Youth, Strategic Platforms

Innovate4Good (I4G), an impact start-up platform, is inviting start-ups, entrepreneurs and other change makers from the MENA region and beyond to register for the CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge. Running under the theme ‘Circular Economy for Food,’ the challenge aims to discover innovative ways of building resilience in local and global food supply chains in a post COVID-19 world. 

The challenge is being held in collaboration with UN75, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, and STRATECIS, as well as, Masdar’s Youth 4 Sustainability platform and Catalyst, a Masdar-BP start-up initiative.  

Catalyst will offer winning startups that meet its screening process the chance to participate in its acceleration program, with up to US$190,000 of funding opportunity, including incubation and acceleration for six months, free office space, multi-discipline lab access, and access to its network for a pilot application.
Registration for the challenge is open until June 18 to start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, young professionals, tech talent, and individual innovators, under categories for early-stage start-ups and teams. 

"The UAE leadership realises the severity of the challenges facing humanity at present, and the vital role innovation plays in addressing them,” Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said in a statement. "Targeting the crucial topic of food security,the challenge builds on our country’s solid track record in bringing people together to come up with ground-breaking solutions to urgent global issues, as well as in supporting those who need it the most."

Participants in the challenge will submit solutions for technologies, services, and products. The challenge’s theme encompasses eight focus areas: water efficiency, energy efficiency in agriculture, sustainable innovation in soilless growing media, sustainable greenhouse technologies and smart farming, food loss and waste management, distribution channels and delivery, sustainable packaging, and urban farming.

Judges will initially shortlist 20 of the best ideas in each category, with the 40 start-ups and teams selected then receiving mentoring to help them develop viable solutions before the final project submission, with 20 solutions being chosen to proceed to the semi-finals. The challenge will culminate in the CovHack Virtual Demo Day on July 20-21, and the winner in each category will receive incubation, mentorship, and acceleration opportunities.

“Catalyst is happy to collaborate with I4G’s CovHack Challenge and contribute to accelerating startup innovation in circular economy for food as an effective tool to attain sustainable development and lasting social impact,” said Cinar Kurra, CEO of Catalyst. 

Interested participants can upload their five-slide idea deck accompanied by a two-minute video pitch at

Launched in January 2020, UN75 is the United Nations' 75th anniversary initiative, and the largest exercise mounted by the organization to gather public opinion and crowdsource solutions to global challenges.