Nutreco Young Researchers' Prize: first-hand tips on how to submit a successful application

Thinking of applying to Nutreco’s next Young Researchers’ Prize? This year’s second and third-place winners Chiara and Giulio, share their tips and tricks for applying.

Chiara Guidi, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Synthetic Biology at the University of Ghent was awarded the €8,000 second place and Giulio Giagnoni, PhD graduate student from Aarhus University in Denmark secured the €5,000 third place prize for the 2022 edition of the Nutreco Young Researchers’ Prize.

We sat down to talk to Chiara and Giulio to learn more about their experiences applying for the Prize, and to pass on helpful tips to other young researchers thinking about applying over the coming years.

1.      First up, let’s talk about the basics – what should prospective young researchers know about the award?

Chiara: The award challenges young academics from anywhere in the world to showcase their innovative solutions for sustainable and environmentally conscious farming practices. The critical element that the judges want to see is innovation – sustainable ideas that solve urgent problems, such as how we can solve food insecurity, and feeding the future of the planet.

Giulio: Any PhD student or postdoctorate researcher up to the second year of study, can apply but they must also work in the areas of animal nutrition, livestock production, aquaculture, veterinary sciences and cellular agriculture.

2.      What can be expected from the application process?

Giulio: This year, the focus of the prize was on research that addressed at least one of three core challenges facing today’s animal feed and nutrition industry: harnessing the power of novel ingredients and technologies; reducing reliance on antimicrobials; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Typically, Nutreco will publish its focus for the award six months ahead of the submission deadline, so you’ll know in good time if your research idea fits the criteria.

Chiara: For the actual application, you’ll need to disclose your name, email, University and country of study. You’ll also need to share a link to your LinkedIn profile, as well as your CV, so make sure that both are up to date! In addition, you’ll be asked to provide a short message or personal statement summarising your research, why it deserves to win, and how well it meets the criteria, so as soon as you decide you want to enter, start to prepare these details in good time.

Giulio: On top of that, you’ll have to produce a short summary of your research in a presentation document. You’ll be encouraged to add any supporting documents that might help to highlight your work – so think about what that could be – for example, media coverage of your research or published works in scientific journals and conferences. But don’t be fooled that the submission will be a written entry only, you’ll also be expected to submit a 60-second video introducing and showcasing your research and idea.

3.      How long did putting the submission together take for you both?

Chiara: The hard part was sticking to the 10 slides. Doing a PhD or a postdoctoral project means you gather a lot of data and new insights, which as you can imagine, is challenging to summarise into just 10 slides. However, after working on it for a couple of days, you start to realise that if you want to make an impact with your research it’s important to be able to tell your story in a concise manner. Only then will your audience understand why your work is of interest, without showering them with data and graphs they don’t need to understand the idea.

Giulio: For the presentation, I already had most of the material I needed from previous work, so the time was actually spent on distilling my research into a format for a broader audience. For me, it was important to get feedback from friends and my project’s advisors, particularly the latter to make sure all those I worked with were aware of the data and results being shared and to avoid disclosing any confidential results or pictures. For the video, I had to review the text quite a few times to make sure it was accurate. I recorded the speech outside in the field with cows, and I took some extra footage of the animals from the ground and with a drone, which I combined all into the final video cut.

4.      The video process was new for 2022 and will be part of future submissions – did you enjoy the opportunity to submit a video?

Giulio: I really enjoyed it – I thought it was a great way to get the most important point across about my research. The restriction of having only a minute made me really focus on what I wanted to say and why it was so important.

Chiara: I thought it was a really good way to make my research accessible and understandable. It’s also a good way to think about your research through a business lens – how is it applicable to real life? Can it be scaled up and down? Is it usable and feasible?

5.      Why do you think your submissions stood out to the judges?

Chiara: I believe our world needs innovative technologies if we’re to cope with the (near) future challenges we face. Synthetic biology and precision fermentation can be a sustainable, innovative and efficient solution – today and in the future, microorganisms can and should be used as our work horses for the production of all sorts of end products. In my case, using bacteria for the synthesis of precise functional feed ingredients, all done in a sustainable way.

Giulio: I think building a coherent and interesting story around a study or a project is a good way to share research work with the wider world – which is what I tried to achieve in my submission. I tailored the main issue of my project, and I summarised the work with comprehensive and clear conclusions. In addition, I think using animated graphs in the presentation and the drone shots in the video helped. Both these elements are cool and creative, and I think animated graphs in particular, if designed carefully, can add a level of explanation and detail to the story.

6.      What can young researchers expect from the shortlisting and presentation process if lucky enough to be shortlisted?

Giulio: I was really shocked and delighted when I received a message letting me know I’d been shortlisted. Then when I received the news that I was a finalist, I was over the moon! At this stage, we were invited by Nutreco to attend an awards ceremony at the Nhow Amsterdam RAI Hotel, the Netherlands. As part of the ceremony, we had to present our ideas to the judging panel, and this meant planning and preparing questions we might receive from the judges about our research ideas.


Chiara: It was an amazing opportunity to drill down into the science, feasibility and details behind the overarching ideas and research projects. Although I was nervous before the presentation, as soon as the adrenaline kicked in, I felt confident and calm – ensuring I was able to present my ideas in the best possible light.

7.      And finally, would you recommend entering next year’s Young Researchers’ Prize? If so, why?

Chiara: Definitely. As a researcher, I think you are obliged to communicate your ideas and the Young Researchers’ Prize is an excellent way to do this. You learn how to summarise your data in a compelling way and get challenged by excellent jury of leading industry experts. Why not participate?


Giulio: You should rather ask yourself, why not apply? Yes, a bit of effort is required, but I think it is limited compared to what you can get out of the prize. The application process is also fun, and I definitely gained valuable skills by going through the process. In my opinion, if you are working on a project that solves one of the key themes, you should challenge yourself and submit an application.


For more details on Nutreco’s Young Researchers’ Prize, please click here:


#competition #aquaculture  #agribusiness #NYRP  #Nutreco Skretting Trouw Nutrition 


With thanks to Chiara and Giulio for their words. Below are more details on their award-winning submissions:


·        Chiara Guidi, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Synthetic Biology at the Ghent University was selected for her research project, “B-COS we are the key to your problem,” which proposes a means of tackling antimicrobial resistance through the production and use of Chitooligosaccharides that target pathogens in the guts of weaning piglets, improving their immunity and growth, whilst preventing illness and reducing the need for antibiotics.

·        Giulio Giagnoni, PhD graduate student from Aarhus University in Denmark, has been recognised for his research project “Phenotype of climate-efficient dairy cows”, which aims to identify climate-efficient phenotypes of dairy cows and reduce methane emissions by amending their diets.