Milken Institute and Motsepe Foundation announced the winners of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech, the first in a series of multi-year, multimillion-dollar innovation competitions and programs aimed at advancing technological progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The $1 million grand prize was awarded to NovFeed, a biotech company based in Tanzania, for its technology to upcycle organic waste into nutritious, sustainable, and traceable plant-based protein ingredients and concentrated natural biofertilizers.
The $300,000 award for second place was presented to Karpolax, a Uganda-based company, for its nanotechnology solution that helps fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer without losing nutritional value. As third place winner, IRRI-AfricaRice won $150,000 for its biotech innovation to help rice farmers protect their crops against flooding, one of the most damaging effects of climate change.
Kuronga, based in South Africa, walked away with the bonus prize for the most inventive use of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Its machine learning and machine vision mobile app utilizes AI to link farmers and buyers while evaluating crop quality. The People's Choice bonus was given to COOL LION from Côte d'Ivoire, whose cooling-as-a-service solutions for agriculture and fisheries are driven by renewable energy, as found most transformative by the public. Each of them was awarded $100,000.
“Varied solutions were considered during the competition, and this contributes to current and future efforts to understand and resolve challenges facing agriculture,” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation. “Making progress towards the SDGs is crucial. We are truly impressed by the participants’ ideas and thank each of them for their dedication to finding viable and scalable solutions.”
“The winners exemplify the fact that bold, scalable, transformative ideas can come from anywhere,” said Dr. Emily Musil Church, senior director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. “Bringing talent to the fore and supporting entrepreneurs is an intentional goal of the competition. It doesn't end there. The expanded network of investors and stakeholders built into the program offers the winning teams continued opportunities to innovate and thrive.”
In April 2021, Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech called for entries globally. More than 105 countries across six continents responded with over 3,300 registrations from this call. After a rigorous judging process by an independent panel of experts, 25 finalist teams were selected to receive a $10,000 grant to progress the development and testing of their innovations to amplify economic value for African smallholder farms. The judge's criteria centered around assessing the innovation's capacity to increase farm productivity and reduce post-harvest loss.
Also included in the program were tuition-free, experiential learning opportunities offered by Global Innovation Catalyst in collaboration with Stanford Online, in which industry experts mentored the teams, pitch coaching was provided, and feedback sessions were conducted.