Competition Rules


  • The INFORMS OR & Analytics Student Team Competition is open to students enrolled in undergraduate and master’s degree programs anywhere in the world.
  • Teams may be made up of exclusively undergraduate or exclusively master’s level students, or a mix.
  • Teams should be at least three people. There is no upper limitation on the size of teams.
  • Team members may be enrolled in any type of degree program.
  • There is no limit on the number of entries from one course, program or school.
  • Team members must be enrolled as students during the time period of the competition. Students who graduate in December 2016 who participated on the team during  2016 can still be considered team members after graduation. 
  • While we encourage INFORMS members to participate, membership in INFORMS is not required for the 2017 competition.
  • Individuals or organizations employed by or connected to a major seed biotech company or their affiliates are not eligible to participate in the 2017 competition.

Role of Advisor:

A faculty member or PhD student may serve as advisor to student teams. The role of the advisor should be to provide guidance and mentorship, but not contribute to the work  of the project.   


First Place - $7,500
Second Place - $5,000 
Third Place - $3,500 
Fourth Place - $1,500 
Fifth Place - $1,000  
Honorable Mention (3 prizes) - $500

Winners will also receive award certificates for each team member and for the school. In addition, each finalist team will receive a $2,500 stipend to offset the cost of conference registration and travel for team members who present at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference.


INFORMS will be responsible for judging and selecting the winners. The Host Sponsor shall only have access to information necessary to assist in evaluation of entries.

In the event that submissions of sufficient quality are not submitted to justify the awarding of all prizes, the award committee reserves the right to eliminate any or all of the prize levels.

All decisions of the award committee are final. The awards will be made in U.S. Dollars. All currency exchange costs are the responsibility of the winners.

Other Rules: 

Awards may be subject to taxes depending on the winners’ countries. Winners are responsible to comply with all tax requirements.

INFORMS shall have the right to use, modify and make available to the public the submitted idea for the purposes of judging, advertising, promotion, administration, testing and demonstration. Intellectual property rights to the contest submission, if any, will remain with the participants.

Participants agree that personal data collected by INFORMS may be stored and displayed to the public within the context of the competition.

Participants represent and warrant that they have the right to submit their idea to the competition, that they are the sole and exclusive owner of the idea, and that the idea or submission of the idea does not violate any applicable law in any country.

Participants represent and warrant that they will not submit any idea that infringes on any third-party intellectual property, trade secret or confidentiality obligation.

To the maximum extent permitted by law, each participant indemnifies and agrees to keep indemnified INFORMS and the 2017 Host Sponsor, Syngenta, their affiliates, agents, directors, officers, employees, representatives and assigns harmless from and against any liability, claims, demands, losses, damages and costs resulting from any act, default or omission of the participant and/or a breach or any warranty set forth herein.

To the extent permitted by law the rules, terms and conditions for the contest are governed by the laws of Maryland.


Competition Timeline

Student teams will be given the same business problem, data sets and access to software to solve a challenging problem using an OR/analytics approach. There are two stages of the competition:

  • Stage 1: Written entries submitted by January 30, 2017. A judging panel made up of industry and academic experts will select finalists from the written entries.

  • Stage 2: Eight finalist teams will make oral presentations at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 2-4 in Las Vegas, NV. Winners will be announced at the conference. 


August 5, 2016

The preliminary written problem statement, without datasets or software, published on the competition web page. 

October 7, 2016

Deadline for registering intent to compete. The final problem statement and entry instructions will be published on the web page. Data sets and access to software will be available for registered teams. Registered teams will be invited to attend a webinar presented by Syngenta staff and to submit written questions for Syngenta response. While registration is non-binding, it indicates your team’s interest in the competition. Only registered teams will receive datasets/software and be invited to the webinar.

October 18, 2016

Deadline for teams to submit written questions for Syngenta staff to address in the webinar.


October 26, 2016

Webinar during which Syngenta staff discuss the business problem and answer questions submitted by participating teams. 


November 7, 2016

Deadline for submitting additional written questions to Syngenta.  These questions and answers will be handled privately with each team and not shared with other competitors.


November 22, 2016

Syngenta responds privately to each team, with all questions answered no later than this date.


January 30, 2017

Deadline for receipt of written entries.


March 1, 2017

Eight finalists selected and announced. 


April 3, 2017

Finalist presentations at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 2-4, Las Vegas, NV. The winners will be announced during the conference.