Meet Our 2023 Startup Innovation Awards Winners

Meet the 2023 Startup Awards winners
30/11/2023

Young entrepreneurs were celebrated at the center stage of the World Food Forum Startup Innovation Awards 2023. This third edition of the annual global startup competition was concluded with the live Finals pitch session held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Headquarters on Wednesday, 18 October 2023 during the 2023 World Food Forum flagship event.

Powered by the  Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), the competition aims to showcase high-tech innovative solutions by young entrepreneurs in transforming the agrifood systems, with emphasis on technological solutions which address challenges of agrifood systems in the Global South.

The WFF Startup Innovation Awards 2023 were officially launched at the WFF Side Event during the UN Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum in New York on 2 May 2023, with categories aligned to each of the FAO four betters: Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment, Better Life and the overall Startup Innovation of the Year Award winner.

In 2023, the World Food Forum Innovation Lab received over 400 startup entrants from 69 countries, which shortlisted into 34 semifinalists, with 55 percent of them from the Global South. After four days of virtual Semi-Finals Live Pitch sessions, eight startups (two startups per category) were selected as finalists from eight different countries, with 50 percent from the Global South: Koolboks (France), Stellapps Technologies (India), CropScan (Kenya), GK AQUA (Malaysia), Zebra CropBank (Nigeria), WeavAir (Poland), Sustainable Planet (United Kingdom), and Organicin Scientific (United States of America).

With the generous support of our sponsors, all finalists received travel allowances to travel to Rome and pitch their startups in-person. Each startup was given three minutes to pitch their company on stage, followed by five minutes of in-depth Q&A from the panel of judges.

The judges included Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director-General (chair of the jury); Corinna Hawkes, Director of the FAO Food Systems and Food Safety Division; Marcelo Cabrol, Chief of Scalability, Knowledge, and Impact at the IDB Lab, Inter-American Development Bank; Nicolas Autret, Partner at Walden Catalyst Ventures; and Victoria Slivkoff, Executive Managing Director of Extreme Tech Challenge.

The winners of WFF 2023 Startup Innovation Awards are:

Zebra CropBank is building Africa’s post-harvest services platform for farmers to store, manage and monetize their crops, allowing farmers to become price-makers instead of price-takers.

Sustainable Planet is a green initiative focused on growing water lentils (45% protein) scaled at industrial level, an opportunity for the African and Middle Eastern regions to secure food supply.

Organicin Scientific is focused on minimizing the reliance on chemical antibiotics in farming, which is known to contribute to environmental pollution, antimicrobial resistance and disrupt biodiversity. They are introducing bacteriocins, naturally occurring antimicrobial proteins, as a sustainable alternative.

Stellapps Technologies is a dairy-led deep tech solutions company that improves productivity, quality and traceability in the dairy value chain to increase farmers' profitability and reduces their carbon footprint.

Zebra CropBank (Nigeria) was also chosen as the WFF Startup Innovation of the Year Award winner.

We really appreciated your focus on post-harvest losses. We know that almost a third of the entire global agricultural production system is affected by food loss and waste. The focus on Africa, the blending of infrastructure with innovation, converting crops into cash, all of that were just really outstanding to the judges. "Congratulations!” FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol commented while giving the Award to Buffy Okeke-Ojiudu, Founder and CEO of Zebra CropBank.

About the WFF Startup Innovation Awards:

Part of the activities of the WFF Innovation Lab, the Startup Innovation Awards are a global startup competition established to support and showcase young innovators and entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of technology to drive the sustainable transformation of agrifood systems in support of ending global hunger, accelerating climate actions and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.