On Thursday, 26 November 2020 the Stellenbosch University LaunchLab hosted the final pitching event for the WWF & Sanlam Disaster and Agricultural Risk Innovation Challenge. Eight companies were shortlisted and three companies were selected as the winner.

The three winners are:

  • WV Productions-Bernitia Kemp: The goal of WV Productions is to contribute to agricultural risk management in South Africa through the promotion of Sustainable Agriculture. They aim to sell wood vinegar at an affordable price to both large-scale, commercial farms and local, community farmers in South Africa. Wood vinegar is a by-product of Biochar production, used for agricultural application to sustainably improve crop yield and control pests. They plan to collaborate with NewCarbon, a newly established business that seeks to produce large volumes of carbon at an affordable price. WV Productions would exclusively use invasive alien trees as the input for Productions, therefore contributing to disaster risk management of invasive alien trees in South Africa.
  • M.A.P Scientific Services-Michael Mole: Utilising the latest satellite technology and AI, this solution aims to map every burn scar (> 1ha) across South Africa on a weekly basis to generate a live database on fires. Users can then access and effectively utilise these data using the user-friendly customisable web-based geospatial applications to monitor, report on, and manage fires in their area of interest.
  • IMBEWU-Ashley Ferreira: A dry, shelf-stable, plant-based meat analogue produced from upcycled mango seed kernels. When cooked in water, it resembles minced meat and has an additional chakalaka-flavoured sauce. It can be consumed alone, on rice or pap, or serves as a base for any stew or curry. This makes it ideal for family meals, government school feeding schemes, outreach programs and distribution during disaster relief. IMBEWU aims to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in South Africa, while supporting the beginning of a shift towards more sustainable food production.

The following people were on the judging panel:

  • Justin Smith, Head of Business Development at WWF
  • John Lomberg, Manager: Stakeholder Relations at Santam
  • Prof. Kennedy Dzama, SU AgriSciences Vice-Dean: Research/ Professor: Animal Breeding
  • Josh Romisher, CEO of SU LaunchLab

It was a very exciting day with very impressive pitches from the entrepreneurs. The three winners will be going through the SU LaunchLab Countdown programme which is a 10-week programme that takes entrepreneurs the necessary handles to discover who their customer is and validate if their product can indeed be a business.