Tanzania’s NovFeed Named Overall Winner Of The $1M Milken-Motsepe Prize in Agritech

This year’s Milken-Motsepe Prize in Agritech went to NovFeed, a biotech company based in Tanzania.

The startup won the $1 million grand prize for its unique technology to turn organic waste into plant-based protein ingredients that are healthy, sustainable, and easy to track, as well as concentrated natural biofertilizer for the food system. The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation work together to put on the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Agritech. It’s the first in a series of innovation competitions and programs that will run for several years and cost many millions of dollars. The goal is to speed up technological progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The second-place prize of $300,000 went to the Ugandan company Karpolax, which uses nanotechnology to help fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer without losing their nutritional value. The third-place prize of $150,000 went to IRRI-AfricaRice for its biotech idea to help rice farmers protect their crops from flooding, which is one of climate change’s worst effects.
There were also bonus prizes of $100,000 each. South African company Kuronga won the bonus prize for most creative use of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for its machine learning and machine vision mobile app. This app uses AI to connect farmers with buyers and makes it easier to check the quality of crops. COOL LION, a Côte d’Ivoire-based startup that provides cooling-as-a-service solutions for different industries (agriculture, fishing, etc.) and is powered by renewable energy, won the People’s Choice bonus prize for the most transformative idea, as chosen by the public.

“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.” 

After launching the competition in April 2021, more than 3,300 people from 105 countries across six continents registered for the Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech. An independent panel of expert judges carefully selected 25 finalist teams to receive $10,000 to develop and test their innovations to improve economic value for small and medium-sized farms in Africa. Each of the teams took part in a rigorous, independent judging process, which assessed their innovation’s potential to increase farm productivity and/or decrease post-harvest loss.   

Teams also received a variety of special benefits, including participation in a tuition-free, experiential learning program offered by Global Innovation Catalyst in collaboration with Stanford Online, where they received mentoring from industry experts, pitch coaching, and feedback sessions. 

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