MEDIA blogs from previous years


MEDIA blogs from previous years


12 June 2019

The Innovate Irrigation Challenge – three things to know before entering

The Innovate Irrigation Challenge – three things to know before entering

A blog by Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy at AB Sugar

The Innovate Irrigation Challenge takes place next week and provides anyone, anywhere in the world with the opportunity to put forward their ideas to help reduce water losses through irrigation in agriculture.

The Challenge was launched in partnership with WaterAid and the Institute of Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge. We believe it to be the first time an international sugar company has launched such a global call for ideas.

With the submission window fast approaching and to help prepare ideas for entry; here’s everything you need to know:


Submitting your idea

Entries can be submitted between 00:01 19 June and 23:59 20 June (GMT) through our website. You will need to have registered for the Challenge before these dates to access the submission area during this 48-hour window.

All entries will be judged on their relevance, feasibility, scalability, impact and measurability.

There will be four questions posed as part of the submission process, these are:

  1. What is the overview of your idea?
  2. How would it work in practice?
  3. What would be the anticipated cost and barriers to implementation? Has it been implemented elsewhere?
  4. What is the potential impact in reducing water losses?

All questions will have a free text field of 500 words maximum. You are then free to provide any supporting documentation up to a total file size of 100MB.


The judges

Our panel of judges represent a diverse range of experience and knowledge across different industry sectors and geographies, as well as delivering complex projects.

When we asked some of our judges what they’re looking for as a judge, here’s what they said:

Jim McClelland: “I am seeking sustainable solutions that can scale. The sheer extent and urgency of water demand mean that size matters - so, whilst innovation is desirable, scalability is essential. Entrants might themselves be small - maybe start-ups, even individuals - but their ideas need to be big, in terms of their potential.”

Ian Bamford: Solutions that clearly combine effective local engagement and understanding with the adaption of systems of irrigation management and control.”

Darran Boote: “I’m looking for submissions that will challenge the status quo with ideas that help to manage irrigation more effectively, reduce the cost of irrigation and increase water productivity.”

Steve Evans: “A way to scale, evidence of practicality (works under real-life conditions), the potential for negative unintended consequences has been thought through.”

Paul Fishpool: "Simple and innovative ideas that can make a big difference as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics or consider the ease vs impact of your idea."

Find out more about our judges here.


The prize

The winning idea will receive £10,000 and the opportunity to potentially work with some of the organisations behind the Challenge to the test the viability of the idea further.

As part of this, there may also be the chance to visit ‘on the ground’ if the winning idea is proved feasible and to see the idea rolled out across one or more of our operations.


If you’ve got a question about the Challenge, please take a look at our FAQs or email

Good luck and we look forward to seeing your interesting and innovative entries!

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