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FFAR and FoodShot Global Announce GroundBreaker Prize Winners

Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research
Kaiyu Guan
                                       Dr. Kaiyu Guan

NASA Harvest partner, Dr. Kaiyu Guan, was awarded the GroundBreaker Prize for his work supporting farmer decision-making to support soil health and the creation of MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) regimes to assist ecosystem service markets. Awarded by The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global, the GroundBreaker Prize recognizes "rising scientific stars whose research has identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land".


Dr. Guan, a professor at the Illinois University at Urbana Champaign, leads a project for Harvest to develop actionable data products and/or tools for Midwest farmers regarding better field-scale nutrient management, using NASA satellite data, process-based models, and domain knowledge.


Speaking of his award, Dr. Guan said, "The FoodShot Groundbreaker Prize is a great honor and recognition to our whole team. We will partner with various stakeholders across agricultural value chains to put our solutions in use, including farmers, policy-makers, and companies aiming to reduce their Scope 3 agricultural emissions. We hope to work with FoodShot Global's extensive network and cross-sectoral influence to accelerate and scale the adoption of our advanced solutions to millions of farms in the years to come."


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Cross-post from FFAR press release below:


FFAR and FoodShot Global Announce GroundBreaker Prize Winners

NEW YORK (Dec. 1, 2022) – The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global, the collaborative capital investment platform that catalyzes innovation for a healthier, more sustainable and more equitable food system, today announced three GroundBreaker Prize winners for their work in BioActive Foods, Precision Protein and Innovating Soil 3.0. FFAR contributed $200,000, which was matched by partner organizations for a total prize award of $480,000.


FoodShot Global’s GroundBreaker Prize recognizes rising scientific stars whose research has identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land. Through this prize, all three recipients receive guidance, mentorship and resources to maximize the impact and scale of their research.


Josh Trautwein, CEO of About Fresh, is receiving $120,000 for his work in BioActive Foods to deploy user-centered design and technology, including the Fresh Connect debit card, to create a scalable model for increasing access to healthy foods in low-income communities. About Fresh’s Fresh Connect platform enables healthcare organizations to make targeted investments in healthy food for people and to measure the impact of their investment, fulfilling the BioActive Foods goal of improving access to nutrient-dense and optimized foods that support brain, immune system, cardiovascular, metabolic and gut health.


Dr. Ray Weil, professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, is receiving $240,000 for his work at the intersection of BioActive Foods, Precision Protein and Innovating Soil to improve human nutrition by addressing low sulfur soils that may cause deficiencies in key amino acids in African countries. Dr. Weil will develop innovative management practices that use Indigenous resources and plant diversity to help soils and agroecosystems provide crops with enough sulfur, an essential but often forgotten plant macronutrient element. The goal is to increase crop yields and farmer income, while also enhancing the amino acid profiles – and hence the nutritional quality – of the protein in grain legumes such as bean, peanut, cowpea and soybean.


Dr. Kaiyu Guan, Blue Waters professor at the University of Illinois and president of Habiterre, is receiving $120,000 for his work in Innovating Soil 3.0 to develop a “system of systems” approach that can support farmer decision-making to improve soil health and provide scientifically rigorous MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) services to ecosystem services markets. Dr. Guan has integrated novel sensing and modeling technologies, combining advanced earth system domain knowledge, such as plant physiology, biogeochemistry, hydrology and agricultural science, with airborne/satellite data, supercomputing, process-based modeling and machine learning. The solution makes it possible to monitor and model every crop field on Earth in real-time for its water and nutrient needs and its environmental footprint.


“These GroundBreakers represent the bold ideas and innovation needed to make food a solution to improving human and planetary health,” said FoodShot Global Founder and Chairman Victor Friedberg. “Perhaps most important, the winners are leveraging partnerships, science and technology in a way that makes the food system more equitable and ensures nutrition security at a global level.”


“After three cycles, the FoodShot portfolio of GroundBreaker winners includes remarkable scientists, entrepreneurs and social change agents around the world,” said Sara Eckhouse, FoodShot Global’s executive director. “We’re excited to continue working with all of the GroundBreakers to build their capacities and impact.”


Additional information about these GroundBreakers and the entire FoodShot Global portfolio is available at

News Date
Jan 9, 2023