Nestlé Picks 3 Start-ups for R&D Innovation Challenge

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Three start-ups from South Africa, Benin and Tanzania have been chosen from the 174 submissions received from 27 different countries across Africa for the Nestlé Research and Development (R&D) Sub-Saharan innovation challenge.

The selected firms are Shopit from South Africa, Exportunity from Benin Republic and Wakulima from Tanzania. They were picked by a panel of Nestlé.

The 3 start-ups 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, they 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.

Apart from the three start-ups, the panel announced Mafani led by 2 students from University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis (Senegal) as the winner of university category of the challenge and will receive CHF 10,000 in prize money.

Speaking on the development, Head of the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Ms Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, stated that, “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.”

Bruno Olierhoek, Market Head for Nestlé East and Southern African Region expressed his delight at the dedication showed by students and start-ups to this initiative. “We are thrilled that this innovation challenge resulted in such great interest from the East and Southern African Region. In the spirit of co-creation we can now look forward to joint ideation between the winners and Nestlé for solutions that will contribute to a healthier future of the people of Africa.”

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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