Syngenta – Field Test Results

Gaining access to external data scientists to help advance agribusiness

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How does a company operating outside the major technology talent centres gain access to the most innovative data scientists that money can buy? Despite having 28,000 employees, including more than 5,000 Doctorate-holding experts, there is a world of talent external to Syngenta, with the ability to provide cutting-edge innovations and assist Syngenta’s mission to develop innovative crop solutions.

Research and Development in agribusiness traditionally consists of thousands of trial and error tests to optimize seeds based on growing conditions, locations, soils and others; this equates to hundreds of millions of dollars and on average a seven-year process to take a new plant variety through to a commercial product. But could data analytics facilitate a better modelling of probable outcomes, allowing smarter choices to be made, saving time, effort and money in the process?

This is where crowdsourcing and Wazoku helped: utilising the power of the global crowd to deliver innovative solutions and assist Syngenta in their aim of smarter processes and leaner research.

The Challenge

  • One of their first forays into open innovation, Syngenta looked for a tool to represent field test results visually, taking the raw data from field trials and highlighting the anomalies for further investigation.
  • Soon after the success of this first Challenge, Syngenta posted a second; this time looking to improve the tool that Solvers in Challenge one had submitted. They wanted to be able to automate as many steps as possible, allowing faster, easier and more intuitive data entry, and also an easier-to-understand output.

The Solutions

  • Posting this problem to an online crowd enabled Syngenta to access a huge diversity of viewpoints and thus receive creative solutions, which contracting the project to a consultant or posting internally may not have.
  • Over 200 Solvers engaged with the problem and after internal evaluation of the solutions, the tool that best met the evaluation criteria and Syngenta’s needs was awarded.
  • Real world impacts from the outcomes were soon felt; field managers were able to understand exactly what went wrong and where issues were with trials, and from this immediately rectify errors.

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