Farm2Vet, a science-informed AI-powered platform co-created with Vietnamese communities, has won a £1 million global prize for its innovative approach to combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a silent pandemic threatening millions of lives. Proposed by researchers at VinUniversity, the University of Illinois, the Vietnam National University of Agriculture, and the Institute of Regional Sustainable Development, the platform aims to revolutionize livestock production in low- and middle-income countries, promote responsible antibiotic use, and protect global health.

The project led by VinUni faculty on antibiotic resistance has just won the Grand Prize at global healthcare innovation competition, the Trinity Challenge.

The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis looms large over global health, threatening to unravel a century of medical progress. This silent pandemic, fueled by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics (the drugs that kill disease-causing bacteria) could claim ten million lives annually by 2050, plunging millions more into poverty.

Nowhere is this threat more acute than in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where small-scale farmers, grappling with limited resources and knowledge, often resort to antibiotics as a first line of defense against animal diseases, unknowingly exposing themselves to the long-term threat of AMR-induced poverty.

In Vietnam, a developing country grappling with one of the world’s highest rates of AMR, 89 percent of animal farmers operate small family farms that are facing challenges like widespread infectious diseases, and uninformed and poorly managed treatments. This has led to a decrease in domestic livestock and aquaculture demand.

A team of visionary scientists is fighting back against AMR. Their innovative project, Farm2Vet, has just won the £1 million grand prize from the prestigious Trinity Challenge, a global competition to tackle the world’s most pressing health risks.

“At first, we thought, ‘What if anyone at any time could have access to a vet?’ It sounded like science fiction, but we realized we have the technology, veterinary expertise, and community engagement to do it”, said Professor Thanh Huong (Helen) Nguyen of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Farm2Vet project leader.

“Farm2Vet ticks a lot of the boxes (for us),” said Professor Marc Mendelson, Director of the Trinity Challenge, a UK-based charity launched in 2021 during the COVID pandemic to innovate in the use of data and analytics. “It connects the farmers with relevant reliable veterinarians. In addition, it generates data at the community level to help detect outbreaks.”

A win-win-win innovative solution

In essence, Farm2Vet aims to assist smallholder farmers by connecting them with trusted veterinary services through a digital platform powered by veterinary medical knowledge and designed by the users themselves. This platform offers instant, interactive, low-cost access to reliable knowledge on preventing infectious disease transmission on livestock farms, targeting the root cause of the AMR crisis in LMICs.

At the heart of Farm2Vet is an AI-powered “Farm2VetBot,” a virtual veterinarian built on a knowledge base of veterinary medicine and microbiology. It uses artificial intelligence and big data to offer tailored veterinary advice to farmers. AI-driven Farm2VetBot extends the service of trained veterinary professionals to household farmers regardless of their resources and locations. This crucial veterinary service will allow farmers to reduce their reliance on antibiotics as a first-line defense.

“Our solution is not to replace formally-trained human vets, but rather we extend their services using technology,” said Professor Thanh Huong (Helen) Nguyen of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, one of the lead researchers of Farm2Vet. “We will co-create the technology together with the farmers, the vet community, and the agriculture supplies industry.”

To ensure the project’s long-term viability, Farm2Vet has explored commercial options. Dr. Phi Thi Linh Giang, a lead researcher at Farm2Vet, emphasizes their unique approach: “What makes us really stand out…is that we have very clear plans for testing different business models and increasing real adoption from farmers.”

This includes exploring various business models like affiliation, advertising and membership. The platform’s database also connects antibiotic-conscious farmers with organic wholesalers, creating a mutually beneficial network for all stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to create a sustainable model that can be scaled to benefit a wider audience.

The participation of Dr. Phi in the Farm2Vet team showcases the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and the rising profile of Vietnamese talent. Both Dr. Phi from the College of Business Management and Dr. Doan Dang Khoa, another team leader from the College of Engineering & Computer Science, are faculty members at VinUniversity, a non-profit private university in Vietnam, and neither has a background in agriculture or microbiology.

Founded in 2019 by Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest private conglomerate, VinUniversity has a mission to nurture a new generation of leaders and innovators who can tackle global challenges. The Farm2Vet project exemplifies this vision, demonstrating the university’s commitment to research that has real-world impact.

“With a data-driven interdisciplinary approach, Farm2Vet is an innovative, feasible solution with the potential for scaling,” said Dr. Le Mai Lan, President of the University Council, VinUniversity. “VinUniversity will support the implementation of this solution in real life, contributing to solving challenges not only in Vietnam but also in other countries worldwide.”

Overcoming challenges, scaling up

At its heart, Farm2Vet is fueled by a profound concern for the well-being of both animals and humans in Vietnam, a country whose economy is rooted deeply in agriculture. It is also on a mission to disrupt the devastating twin cycles of poverty and animal infectious disease that cripple numerous farming communities in LMICs.

The path to achieving this goal is not without obstacles. For instance, farmers may be wary of data security and the potential costs associated with the platform. To address these concerns, the team is implementing robust security measures and developing incentive programs to make the platform more accessible. They are also exploring solutions like SMS-based services to reach farmers with limited technology access.

The team has a clear roadmap planned out for the next three years. The first year will focus on building and refining the virtual platform with input from farmers and veterinarians in Northern Vietnam. The second year will see the pilot platform launched nationwide to further test and improve its features and operations. This two-step approach is necessary due to significant regional variations in Vietnamese dialect and vocabulary, ensuring the VetBot’s accuracy across diverse user bases.

In the third year, the focus will shift to scaling up the user base by exploring different marketing strategies, business models, and collaborations with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

Given Farm2Vet’s ambitious timeline, the Trinity Challenge prize money will be crucial to overcoming these challenges, expanding the platform’s reach, and demonstrating its potential for replication in other countries facing similar AMR crises.

The potential impact of Farm2Vet is immense. By promoting responsible antibiotic use, the platform could significantly reduce the spread of AMR, saving countless lives and preventing economic losses. The data generated by the platform could also inform policy decisions and guide research efforts, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of AMR. Moreover, by empowering farmers and improving animal health, the project could boost agricultural productivity and lift communities out of poverty.

Farm2Vet represents a beacon of hope in the fight against AMR. It is a testament to the power of technology, the importance of collaboration, and the potential of human ingenuity to tackle global challenges.

“All living things on planet Earth are interconnected. We are not isolated from each other – when we stop microbes from becoming resistant, we can protect ourselves and the environment at the same time. For this project, we aim for impact”, said Professor Helen Nguyen.



Will Davis is a freelance writer covering economic, automobile, and lifestyle topics in Vietnam.

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