Transforming the food system: one innovative solution at the time

This November just after the COP26 summit we had the opportunity to participate in the Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge as part of the 2nd International Agrobiodiversity Congress convened by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,  CGIAR, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, and organized in collaboration with a wide range of partner organizations.

The Innovation Challenge took place virtually and sought innovators solving challenges in the agri-food sector by utilizing or conserving agrobiodiversity. It provided a thrilling  opportunity to learn from some of the most promising and inspiring innovations, all leading the charge in order to make a difference in a time our world needs it most. This year’s challenge has received more than 350 applications from 76 countries. The ten shortlisted finalists were given three minutes to pitch their innovation before facing Q&As with the expert Selection Committee, formed of representatives from the Challenge’s partner organizations of which Rockstart was also represented.  If you missed the challenge or would like to watch it again, you can check it out here.

Today we are excited to share that SeaSoilution, NovFeed, and Cloud Pads won a three-month acceleration program, offered by Rockstart and the Accelerate for Impact Platform team at CGIAR. They will now undergo the CGIAR x Rockstart Investor Readiness Program 2022. The teams will spend the coming months in a range of assessments, tailor-made workshops, and mentorship with industry experts to help determine a clear growth path, expand their network, and develop the necessary skills to take their innovations to the next level.

Here is what the winners had to say about the program:

“We are ecstatic to be a part of the CGIAR x Rockstart Investor Readiness Program, which will aid NovFeed’s global expansion. Everything, from the rigorous selection process to the final showcase, was designed to create amazing connections that generate new opportunities between startups and the broader ecosystem of corporates and investors in the AgriFood industry. We owe a debt of appreciation to Alliance of Biodiversity-CIAT for opening a door for NovFeed that would have been nearly impossible to open without their assistance.”

Diana Orembe, Co-founder and CEO of NovFeed

“Addressing the urgency of Waste in the Agrifood sector is one of the pressing issues in the ecological crisis we are facing. The Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge really served as a catalyst to identify these issues and highlight the innovators that are courageous enough to tackle them. We at Cloud are still buzzing from all the inspiration we took away from this event, and are even more excited to solidify our vision through the help of the Rockstart Investor Readiness Program!”

Sarah El Harouny, Co-founder and CEO at Cloud Pads

“The Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge was an amazing opportunity to present our solution in front of a large audience of experts and involved individuals. We are extremely excited to participate in the Investor Readiness Program by CGIAR and Rockstart, as we are convinced that it will accelerate our business and most importantly the impact we can create. CGIAR and Rockstart are strong partners with a unique network that will help us to turn the Sargassum plague into an opportunity!”

Constantin Weberpals, Project Lead at SeaSoilution

The Investor Readiness Program has already started and will continue until the end of March 2022. The selected startups undergo a range of assessments, tailor-made workshops such as value proposition, validation techniques, financial roadmapping, pitch & proposition training, go to market strategy, mentorship with industry experts and matchmaking with potential investors, partners, and other experts. Best of luck to them!

All in all, we are delighted to drive this initiative further into 2022 as it reinforces our efforts of preserving biodiversity and transforming the food system through investments from the Rockstart AgriFood fund into foodtech and agtech startups. We have partnered with Alliance/CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform to bring a complete startup solution to the table: at Rockstart we work with our specific startup methodology and focus on business strategy, while CGIAR opens opportunities for science-based innovations to learn more on product development and technologies based on their years of research but also available facilities. Together we are ensuring that the startups in our ecosystem are growing exponentially and driving the much needed positive impact.

Make sure to check this space for more information on this program and others to come in 2022.

More on CGIAR and its initiatives

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. 

The Accelerate for Impact Platform is an Alliance/CGIAR venture-focused Research for Development space designed to bridge science and entrepreneurship. A4IP co-designs and scales agriculture and climate change science-based breakthrough technologies as well as making sure that solutions are accessible to all.