Chance to Win up to $30,000 at the Protecting the Natural Flavor of Catfish Challenge 2021

Chance to Win up to $30,000 at the Protecting the Natural Flavor of Catfish Challenge 2021



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Organisation à but non lucratif
Date limite
15 déc. 2020
Niveau d'études
Type d'opportunité
Financement d'opportunité
Financement complet
Pays éligibles
Région éligible
Toutes les régions

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) seeks to identify methods or technologies capable of reducing or eliminating instances of off-flavor in farmed catfish raised in ponds. The Protecting the Natural Flavor of Catfish Challenge will award a total prize purse of $60,000 for the most compelling approaches for preventing or eliminating these off-flavors which cost farmers millions of dollars each year. USDA-ARS believes that exciting new technologies and innovations are possible and welcomes the global community to provide insight in all forms to this topic, regardless of approach.

The Problem

Exposure to certain varieties of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can cause undesirable changes to the flavor of farmed catfish. This off-flavor delays the harvest for roughly 50% of catfish pounds each year in the United States. Annually, this delay alone can cost catfish farmers millions of dollars in lost revenue and expenses to maintain the fish until flavor quality returns.


USDA-ARS has identified three different points in the process where new methods or technologies could be implemented to address off-flavors in catfish:

  • Pre-harvest management practices: new methods/technologies that work to prevent the development of off-flavor causing blue-green algae in catfish ponds.
  • Pre-harvest treatment technologies: new methods/technologies to remove off-flavor from catfish once it has been detected in sampled fish prior to harvest.
  • Post-harvest treatment technologies: new methods/technologies that would allow processors to remove off-flavors from catfish after harvesting.

Performance Criteria:

Ideally, the proposed approaches will meet the following performance criteria:

  • Reduce or mask off-flavor compounds to a level undetectable to professional flavor testers (~100ng/kg).
  • Cost the same or less than current treatments (currently ~$177/acre-ft, which translates to ~$8000 per pond. The average catfish pond is a 10-acre pond, 4 ft deep).
  • Maintain catfish well-being.
  • Be neutrally or positively viewed by consumers.
  • Environmentally safe for both pond and surrounding areas.
  • Safe for operators and other personnel.


ARS will award up to $60,000, to be split among the top-scoring and eligible submissions, with at least one prize winner in each category. Each prize awarded will be up to $30,000 and no less than $5,000.

Furthermore, it is the intention of ARS to facilitate the implementation of new technologies in the field to the benefit of the industry. To that end, ARS will consider post-challenge discussions between ARS scientists and winners, engaging with winners in joint publication efforts or in collaborative work to further develop proposed technologies. The USDA-ARS Office of Technology Transfer will assist with cooperative research agreement options as warranted.

Participation Eligibility:

  • The Prize is open to anyone age 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation. If you are a USDA-ARS employee, a Government contractor, or employed by a Government Contractor, your participation in this challenge may be restricted.
  • Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
  • No specific qualifications or expertise is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.
  • To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

About HeroX:

HeroX was co-founded in 2013 by XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis, challenge designer Emily Fowler and entrepreneur Christian Cotichini as a means to democratize the innovation model of XPRIZE. HeroX exists to enable anyone, anywhere in the world, to create a challenge that addresses any problem or opportunity, build a community around that challenge and activate the circumstances that can lead to a breakthrough innovation.

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