Soy Innovation Challenge Finalists Ready to Add Value to Soybean Meal

The Soy Innovation Challenge is an open innovation challenge that seeks out ag-tech startups, innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and research groups to compete in helping solve some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. The finalists for the 2023 Soy Innovation Challenge were announced recently, and United Soybean Board — along with The Yield Lab Institute — is pleased to provide you with a closer look at the finalists.

To find new uses for soybean meal, USB invested in a competition to strengthen soybean meal markets and create unique revenue streams for U.S. soybean farmers. The Yield Lab Institute is a partner in this venture to unlock the private sector potential and identify companies ready to launch new products and incorporate soybean meal as a component. The Soy Innovation Challenge helps USB to deliver on its goal of delivering sustainable solutions to every life, every day.

“These finalists are very diverse, not only in terms of technology and geography but also in terms of market, fit and potential in what they are doing,” said Brandon Day, COO of The Yield Lab Institute. “Through this contest, farmer investment dollars are going toward meaningful and impactful research and innovation. These four examples have the potential to reap benefits down the line that will benefit soybean growers nationwide.”

The finalists in this year’s Soy Innovation Challenge are:

  • Ichthus Unlimited — Ichthus Unlimited aims to resolve bottleneck issues for the aquaculture industry and provide solutions for its sustainability and permanence. A key R&D focus of Ichthus Unlimited is to develop soy-based animal feed binders that replace costly alternatives.
  • POLARISqb — POLARISqb utilizes quantum computing and artificial intelligence to revolutionize drug design. They are developing a feed additive that makes soymeal feed digestible and nutritious for livestock without relying on costly extraction methods.
  • Satavie — Satavie’s mission is to nourish with responsibly sourced, high-quality soy protein concentrate made with innovative technology. They believe in providing wholesome and nutritious ingredients and strive to be a trusted source of nourishment for generations.
  • SoyKitty — SoyKitty is an innovative pet company that creates premium companion animal products that are safer for people, pets and the planet. SoyKitty is an eco-friendly, nontoxic cat litter made predominantly from soybean coproducts.

“With the increased demand for soybean oil, farmers continue to ask, ‘What will we do with more meal?’ The Soy Innovation Challenge is one way to tackle that question,” said April Hemmes, USB Demand Action Team Chair and farmer-leader from Iowa. “Our charge is to uncover new opportunities and markets that add value for soybean growers, and that means we need to make this meal more valuable.”

By focusing on increasing soybean meal use and value, this year’s Soy Innovation Challenge winner will offer a solution that has a strong potential to bring value back to farmers. The winner will be announced in May 2023.

“To know that my checkoff dollars are going to support projects like the Soy Innovation Challenge gives me a great sense of pride. These finalists, through their companies and projects, could revolutionize the way that soybean meal is looked at as a sustainable and cost-effective product that can help solve a market need. It’s hard to not get excited about the future of soy when you see the innovations and new uses coming to the market — hopefully soon,” said Hemmes.

Day added, “I am impressed and encouraged about the trajectory and potential of the ideas brought forth by these companies, even the ones ultimately not selected. Checkoff investors should know that this challenge is a very value-added proposition. In the next five to 10 years, a relatively short time in business startup terms, the benefits of the Soy Innovation Challenge will be evident.”

For more information about the Soy Innovation Challenge, visit

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