Three startups from South Africa, Benin and Tanzania have emerged the winners of the Nestlé Research and Development (R&D) Innovation Challenge. The startups are ShopIt, Exportunity and Wakulima.
The startups were selected from among a highly competitive group of 174 submissions received from 27 different countries across Africa and they were adjudged the most promising by a panel of Nestlé executives.
In addition, the initiative Mafani led by 2 students from University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis (Senegal) was selected as the winner of university category of the challenge and will receive CHF 10,000 in prize money.
The 3 startups winners have been awarded a 4-month residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, located at the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
During their stay, the 3 selected startups will have the opportunity to tap into Nestlé’ R&D’s expertise, as well as have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure such as hot desks, labs, kitchens and pilot testing equipment to further advance and potentially commercialize their ideas.
According to Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, Head of the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, “the Sub-Saharan African innovation ecosystem is filled with creative energy and strong entrepreneurial minds. However, there is not enough infrastructure to test and validate new ideas, therefore, limiting access to a wider market’’.
She highlighted that “Nestlé’s R&D science and technology expertise will contribute by providing a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers’ needs and preferences.”
In May 2019, Nestlé launched the R&D innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to stimulate innovative solutions across four areas: affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets.
It has set a particular focus on universities and start-ups in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
Chair of the challenge selection panel, Mr Rémy Ejel, Market Head for Nestlé in Central and West Africa, was pleased with the high level of participation from the region.
“I am impressed by the original ideas pitched to us today. With a majority of the submissions coming from Ghana and Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, the region is in an exceptional position to become an innovation hub for the African continent.”