Please note that the details of this Challenge are no longer open. This challenge is awarded and is no longer accepting new submissions. You can:
Challenge Nutrient Recycling Challenge
Nutrient Recycling Challenge
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 288
Posted: Nov 16 2015
Challenge ID: 9933114
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge Team Share Challenge Share

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is partnering with the nation’s top pork and dairy producers, U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Wildlife Fund, and environmental and scientific experts to host the Nutrient Recycling Challenge—a competition to find affordable technologies to recycle nutrients from livestock waste and create valuable products.

The goals are to:

  • Accelerate the development of nutrient recovery technologies that are adoptable for pork and dairy farms, and can produce environmental and economic benefits.
  • Increase awareness of issues and opportunities related to nutrients and manure management.
  • Connect innovators and agricultural stakeholders.
  • Stimulate markets for products generated by nutrient recovery technologies.

In addition to the guaranteed monetary award for this Challenge, Solvers may be provided with multiple types of opportunities to publicize their submissions, if they choose.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.


EPA has partnered with pork and dairy producers, USDA, and environmental and scientific experts to launch the Nutrient Recycling Challenge—a competition to develop affordable technologies that recycle nutrients from livestock manure.

Every year, livestock producers manage over a billion tons of manure, which contains valuable nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—that plants need to grow. Scientists and engineers are already building technologies that can recover nutrients, but further development is needed to make them more effective and affordable. The Nutrient Recycling Challenge will harness the power of competition to find solutions that are a win-win for farmers, the environment, and the economy.

Challenge entrants will develop technologies that extract nutrients from manure to generate products with environmental and economic benefits that farmers can use or sell. During the four-phase competition, innovators will turn their concepts into designs and, eventually, into working technologies that livestock farms can use in pilot projects. Phase I, which runs from November 16, 2015 through January 15, 2016, calls for papers outlining ideas for these technologies. Phase I prizes will be announced in March and include up to $20,000 cash to be split between up to four semi-finalists; invitation to a two-day partnering and investor summit in Washington, DC; and entry into subsequent phases of the challenge with larger awards.

This is a special Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • The total cash prize pool for this competition is up to $20,000. The award(s) will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seekers. The judging panel will identify the best submission(s). There is one guaranteed award of at least $5,000, and no award will be less than $5,000. [Award structure modified on December 17, 2015]
  • In addition to the direct monetary award, Solvers with promising submissions may be invited (at the Seekers’ sole discretion) to a unique opportunity to attend an exclusive two-day event in Washington, DC where they can meet potential partners and present their idea to a distinguished panel of investors and experts in March 2016. To offset travel expenses, up to 10 Solvers will receive travel stipends of $1,000 each.
  • Potential Visibility to Funding Sources – Beyond providing the guaranteed award for this Challenge, the organizations sponsoring it may contact Solvers directly about advancing their ideas, through financial support or other types of assistance. Additionally, every Solver who submits to this Challenge may choose whether or not the organizations sponsoring this Challenge may independently share the Solver’s submission with other potential funding sources.   
  • Option for Fast Track to Demonstration Pilots on Dairy and Pork Farms – Additionally, every Solver who submits to this Challenge may choose whether or not the organizations hosting this Challenge may independently share the Solvers’ submission with other potential funding sources. For Solvers with more developed technologies, the organizations hosting the Challenge may contact Solvers directly regarding potential offers of demonstration pilots for the technologies. 
  • Submission forwarding occurs during the Challenge.  Since submissions will be forwarded to the Seekers throughout the Challenge, please make sure you upload only a finished proposal. You can submit an updated version of your proposal only as a new submission. If you submit an updated version of your proposal, please clearly indicate the new items and/or edits compared to your previous submission. This will allow the Seekers to quickly find the new information and determine how it improves your submission.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seekers.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grant to the Seekers a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes. For this Challenge, submissions may be used in the following ways:
    • The Seekers will share Solvers’ entire submissions with members of the judging panel, solely for the purpose of determining finalist and awarded submissions.
    • The Seekers may choose to follow up directly with Solvers about an idea to encourage its advancement.
    • Only if explicitly authorized by a Solver, the Seekers may choose to share a Solver’s entire submission with other potential funding sources and/or the general public.
    • The Seekers may decide to initiate a broader funding call to encourage the advancement of a proposed platform technology submitted by a Solver. The Seekers will not, however, publicize the details of the Solver’s general approach to developing the technology.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 15, 2016. 

Late submissions will not be considered.

After the Challenge deadline, the judging panel appointed by the Seekers will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

American Biogas Council

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

Ben & Jerry's

Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Cooper Farms


Dairy Farmers of America

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

Iowa State University

Marquette University

National Milk Producers Federation

National Pork Producers Council

Newtrient LLC

Smithfield Foods

Strategic Conservation Solutions

Tyson Foods

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Washington State University

Water Environment Research Foundation

World Wildlife Fund

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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