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Social enterprise startups from around the world with innovative solutions to takcle world hunger have until midnight (central European time) on 21 August to apply to join the World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator in Munich, Germany.
Those that this miss the deadline will however have their applications considered for future rounds of the programme.
The accelerator is looking for solution-driven startups and submissions will be judged on how applicants are able to solve the problems they purport to focus on. Applicants from past cohorts have submitted applications such as satellite based asset monitoring systems, ecommerce platforms and eLearning.
WFP Innovation Accelerator consultant Alex Sloan told Ventureburn that the accelerator currently supports startups that use a broad range of technologies from hydroponics through to blockchain.
“We assess all tech solutions on their merits and ability to solve the problem at hand. However, we’re particularly interested in frontier technologies, such as artificial intelligence and fintech, as a means of improving humanitarian response to emergencies and also in agritech initiatives that support smallholder farmers.
“Finally, we’re also interested in entrepreneurs who are adapting more traditional tech, or adapting existing business models to solve hunger. Ultimately, all startups should be solution, rather than tech, driven,” says Sloan.
WFP Innovation Accelerator aims to tackle hunger through the development of innovative solutions
The WFP, a UN programme, launched the accelerator last year to tackle hunger through innovation. The programme provides participants with seed and scale up funding, networking and mentorship opportunities together with access to WFP operations.
The programme is funded by the German government through its Federal foreign office, the German ministry of Economic cooperation and development and the State of Bavaria through a five-year agreement worth $25-million.
The accelerator also holds regular three to 10 day boot camps and three to six month long sprint programmes.
The sprint programme are aimed at assisting startups to reach the proof-of-concept stage, to develop a prototype and to scale. Participants in the programme stand to receive financial support of up to $100 000, mentorship and a working space in Munich. More importantly, participants will get to pilot solutions they submit in a WFP field location.
Additionally, graduates of the programme will be eligible to receive further funding from the WFP Innovation Fund.
“We are currently in the process of fundraising for a secondary scale-up fund that will help take proven concepts to scale through additional investment,” said Sloan.
Since it was launched last year the accelerator has held four innovation boot camps that were attended by over 500 attendees. Sloan said so far the programme has held four cohorts which have assisted 30 startups and internal WFP projects to launch.
Innovations have reached 144 000
The accelerator has worked with 33 startups or internal WFP teams to date. “We started working with startups in December 2016 but this is part of our first major engagement with externals. Ten startups attended our last bootcamp in April and we will be making an announcement on which ones are to receive funding shortly,” he said.
These innovations and projects have reached 144 000 people in 20 countries. One of these is Maano, a virtual farmer’s market currently operating in Zambia, the application allows farmers to advertise and trade surplus crops.
Sloan said the accelerator is in the process of finalising its latest cohort which includes two African startups which he could not yet reveal at this stage.
Those interested in applying can do so here.
Featured image: Supplied