Nestlé has awarded three African startups a four-month residency in its new Nestlé research and development (R&D) accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa after they won the organisation’s R&D innovation challenge.
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Nestlé said in a statement on Wednesday (4 September) that the three were selected from among a highly competitive group of 174 submissions received from 27 different countries across Africa.
The Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa is located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Nestlé launched the innovation challenge in May as part of its efforts to stimulate innovative solutions across four areas. These were affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets.
The organisation has also set a particular focus on universities and startups in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
The Mafani initiative led by two students from the University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis in Senegal was selected as the winner of university category of the challenge and will receive 10 000 Swiss francs in prize money.
The three winning startups will now take up residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa which is located at the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
During the four-month residency, the three will have the opportunity to tap into Nestlé’ R&D’s expertise. Participants will also have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure such as hot desks, labs, kitchens and pilot testing equipment to further develop their ideas.
Nestlé R&D Center head Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi said in the same statement that 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,” added Abega-Oyouomi.
She said that Nestlé’s R&D science and technology expertise will provide a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers’ needs and preferences.
Majority of submissions from West Africa
Nestlé Central and West Africa market head Rémy Ejel, who chaired the challenge’s selection panel, said he was pleased with the high level of participation from the region.
“I am impressed by the original ideas pitched to us today. With a majority of the submissions coming from Ghana and Nigeria and Ivory Coast, the region is in an exceptional position to become an innovation hub for the African continent,” added Ejel.
Also chiming in, Nestlé East and Southern African market head market head Bruno Olierhoek expressed his delight at the dedication showed by students and startups to this initiative.
“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 Olierhoek.
Featured image: Nestlé team with members of the winning startups and students (Supplied)