The three startups beat 174 submissions and will receive 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 start-ups 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. 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.
“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,’’ said Bruno Olierhoek, Market Head for Nestlé East and Southern African Region.
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.
Nestlé kicked off a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem. The challenge aims to help boost local entrepreneurship, as well as provide a platform for start-ups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth by bringing breakthrough ideas to the market.
The R&D innovation challenge aims to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions that help to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs. The R&D innovation challenge calls for novel solutions across four areas: environmentally friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.
Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer said: “There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities. This R&D innovation challenge presents for our company an exceptional opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity, while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality.”
Nestlé partnered with Kinaya Ventures to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyze digital entrepreneurship. The challenge also calls upon universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.
The selected teams will enter an accelerator program to help advance and potentially commercialize their ideas. During the accelerator, the start-up and university teams will have access to Nestlé’s R&D expertise and infrastructure at the R&D Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, including shared labs, kitchens and pilot-testing equipment. At the end of the accelerator, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their proof of concept to Nestlé management.
The R&D innovation challenge is part of Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative, which has an ambition to help 10 million young people around the world have access to economic opportunities by 2030. This supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
In 2018, Nestlé also partnered with Ashoka and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to create the Social Investment Accelerator, which accelerates social entrepreneurship and boosts economic development of Africa.