Syngenta and the INFORMS Analytics Society announce second annual Crop Challenge in Analytics finalists

  • Competition challenges entrants to use analytics to predict farmers’ seed variety selections in a growing region
  • Finalists to present at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research in April
  • Award-winning entries to be selected after rigorous finalist presentations

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--()--The Analytics Society of INFORMS®, a flagship community of the leading international association for professionals in operations research and analytics, has selected the competition finalists for the 2017 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics. The Crop Challenge tasks participants to apply analytics to develop a model that predicts which soybean seed varieties are more likely to be chosen by farmers in a growing region.

“After multiple rounds of evaluation, the prize committee has selected five excellent submissions for this year's Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics award. This competition clearly demonstrated that innovations in the agriculture industry can come from creative problem solvers anywhere in the world,” said Robin Lougee, research industry lead at IBM Research and committee chair of the Crop Challenge prize committee.

The competition aims to address the problem of world hunger and food insecurity by fueling innovation in the application of advanced analytics in biochemistry and agriculture.

The finalists are:

  • A Decision Making Approach for Soy Seed Variety Selection via Hedging Against Weather Risk – Zhongshun Shi, Yu Zhao, Xi Zhang and Leyuan Shi, Peking University, China
  • A Hierarchical-Ensemble of Machineries to Optimize the Choice of Soybean Varieties – Durai Sundaramoorthi, Lingxiu Dong, Iva Rashkova and Piruthiviraj Sivaraj, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Portfolio Optimization for Seed Selection in Diverse Weather Scenarios Oskar Marko, Sanja Brdar, Marko Panić, Isidora Šašić, Milivoje Knežević, Danica Despotović, Vladmir Crnojević and Zorana Djindjica, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Seed Stocking Via Multi-Task Learning Yunhe Feng and Wenjun Zhou, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Soybean Portfolio Selection with LASSO Model Averaging and Integer Linear Programming – Benjamin Harlander and Taylor Thiel, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

These finalists will make their presentations Monday, April 3, 2017, at the INFORMS Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their entries will be evaluated based on the rigor and validity of the process used to determine seed varieties, the quality of the proposed solution, and the finalists’ ability to clearly articulate the solution and its methodology. The winners will be announced following the presentations. The first place winner of the Syngenta Crop Challenge will be awarded $5,000; the runner up will receive $2,500; and the third place entry will receive $1,000.

Syngenta, an award winning company for its innovation in plant analytics, is proud to support this competition hosted by the Analytics Society of INFORMS. As the recipient of the 2015 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for its innovations in the use of analytics for seed breeding, Syngenta donated the prize money in support of this challenge.

“The quality of submissions received from this competition underscores the level of excellence that participants from outside the industry can bring to this field,” said Joseph Byrum, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, senior R&D strategic marketing executive with Syngenta and Syngenta lead for the Crop Challenge committee. “We are so excited to see the value that new ideas in analytics bring to increasing efficiency and productivity in seed breeding.”

Serving on the Syngenta Crop Challenge Prize Committee are:

  • Committee Chair: Robin Lougee, Research Industry Lead, Consumer Products & Agriculture, IBM Research
  • William Beavis, GF Sprague Chair of Population and Quantitative Genetics, Iowa State University
  • Joseph Byrum, Senior R&D and Strategic Marketing Executive in Life Sciences – Global Product Development, Innovation and Delivery, Syngenta
  • Arnie Greenland, CAP, Decision, Operations & Information Technologies, University of Maryland
  • Claudia Perlich, Chief Scientist, Dstillery (formerly Media6Degrees)
  • Alexander Platt, Center for Computational Genetics and Genomics, Temple University
  • Stein Wallace, Department of Business and Management Science, The Norwegian School of Economics
  • Jim Williams, CAP, Principal Consultant, Xpress Optimization at FICO, Past-President of the Analytics Society of INFORMS

More details about the Syngenta Crop Challenge competition can be found at Join the conversation online – connect with us at

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Chris Tutino, 919-226-7238
Jill Mastrangelo, 919-870-5718
INFORMS media contact:
Ashley Kilgore, 443-757-3560

Release Summary

Syngenta and INFORMS announced the finalists for the second annual Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics. Finalists will present at an INFORMS Conference in April.


Chris Tutino, 919-226-7238
Jill Mastrangelo, 919-870-5718
INFORMS media contact:
Ashley Kilgore, 443-757-3560