In Search of Corn's 'Next Big Thing'

June 8, 2017 11:38 AM
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A new global competition, announced by the National Corn Growers Association in conjunction with innovation facilitator NineSigma, will look for new innovative uses for field corn in an attempt to spike market demand.

The “Consider Corn Challenge” will award up to six winning proposals a prize of $25,000 each.

“This challenge is geared to inspire new concepts, approaches and technologies that will help drive innovation,” according to Larry Hoffman, North Dakota farmer and chairman of NCGA’s Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team. “In addition to researchers who have increased the spectrum of renewable chemicals from corn to date, we are reaching out to the global innovation community that is largely untapped regarding new product frontiers for corn.”

NCGA points out how significant demand has been in corn over the past four decades. From 1970 to 2015, corn production has increased from 105.5 million metric tons to 345.5 million metric tons. The more uses researchers can devise for the crop, the better off farmers will be, Hoffman says.

NCGA ultimately hopes to establish three new uses that require at least 75 million bushels total by 2020. Hoffman says other industries are successfully using an open innovation approach that it also hopes to accomplish by pairing up with NineSigma.

“In working with NineSigma, we are leveraging their established expertise in open innovation and global database of solution providers to help find the next big thing for corn,” he says.

Responses are due September 28, 2017, and winners will be announced February 2018. For more information, visit

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