The World Bank Group and the French-South African Agricultural Institute (F’SAGRI), in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the French Embassy and the French Ministry for Agriculture are looking to finance and support entrepreneurs, researchers and technologists through the 1st in a series of the AgTech Innovation Challenge with the e-Southern Africa Startup Community (e-SASCy) exclusively on the Innovation Bridge Portal (IBP). Are you working towards finding innovative solutions to some of the most urgent issues affecting agriculture and food security in Southern Africa ─ one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic? Don’t miss out on this opportunity to accelerate your venture.
Actors within the Southern African agricultural sector face increasing uncertainty due to food security concerns, rapidly growing populations, unsustainable practices, climate change and sub-optimal land use. Technology innovation can help transform the region’s agriculture value chain by assisting smallholders, emerging and commercial farmers overcome challenges in productivity, post-harvest activity management, and access to finance or markets. To incentivise the development of these technologies, The World Bank, F’SAGRI, DSI, the French Embassy and the French Ministry for Agriculture are excited to launch this challenge, which aims to develop innovations and innovators while creating links and displaying the benefits of exchange in the AgTech sector with e-SASY. Short-listed applicants stand a chance to pitch their ideas at the AgTech Innovation Challenge Day, taking place 25th November 2021. The winners of the Innovation Challenge will win substantial prizes, enabling them to accelerate and expand their projects. Additionally, the research innovators from Southern African universities will gain international exposure and knowledge to apply their ideas locally. The challenge is divided into four focus areas:
Challenge 1: The digitalisation of Supply Chains
How can digital solutions help customers and consumers on the margins (i.e., smallholder farmers) gain better access to resources, markets and finance?
Challenge 2: Food Technology
How can we push the boundaries of new processes, inputs, nutrition and ingredients?
Challenge 3 Productivity
How can technology and product innovations be leveraged to increase agricultural productivity?
Challenge 4: Climate-Smart Technologies
How can environmental stress and climate change be offset in food systems?
The AgTech Innovation Challenge winners will receive the following prizes:
- The Innovation Prize endowment with cross-mobility for applied researchers and a cash award for the startups.
- The opportunity to exhibit their proposed work at an award ceremony hosted by World Bank, F’SAGRI and partners at the French Residence in Pretoria (if travel is feasible on the 25 Nov 2021, all expenses will be paid).
- Winners will be featured as innovators in AgTech press releases, media and exhibited at a challenge expo day at the end of the competition.
- Growth program including workshops, One-on-One mentorship, Pitch Polishing, Business Development and Fundraising training
Important dates to note:
- 29 Aug 2021: An online webinar inviting potential applicants to learn more about the AgTech Innovation Challenge and the requirements of the competition.
- 1 Sept 2021: Call for nominations/applications directly relevant to tech interests and country development objectives.
- 31 October 2021: Deadline.
- 1st -24th November 2021: Shortlisting of applicants. Selected startups and applied researchers will start preparation for the AgTech Innovation Challenge Day.
- 25th November 2021: The AgTech Innovation Challenge Day. The session will comprise of pitches from the short-listed startups and researchers, who will go through a rigorous judging and voting session for the winner to be selected.
- November 2021-January 2022: Winning applicants will attend various workshops and mentorship programmes focusing on investments, fundraising and partnerships for their ventures.
- Feb/Mar-2022: Challenge Expo Day. Winners will share the progress and results of the AgTech Innovation Challenge.