Dar es Salaam. A biotech company from Tanzania, NovFeed, has won a US$1 million grand prize for its proprietary technology to upcycle organic waste into nutritious, sustainable, and traceable plant-based protein ingredients and concentrated natural biofertilisers for the food system.
Based in Dar es Salaam, NovFeed uses natural microbes and industrial biotech to turn organic waste into a concentrated protein product. It focuses on making nutritious, customisable inputs for the food system, thus enabling meat and aquaculture sectors to get food products.
NovFeed emerged as the first winner in the Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech, organised by the Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation, whose winners were announced on Tuesday in Los Angeles, United States.
The $300,000 award for second place was presented to Karpolax, an Uganda-based company, for its nanotechnology solution that helps fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer without losing nutritional value.
The $150,000 award for third place was presented to a Philippines-based organisation, IRRI-AfricaRice, for its biotech innovation to help rice farmers protect their crops from flooding, one of the most damaging effects of climate change.
Speaking about the innovations that competed with each other for the prize, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, said all solutions contribute to current and future efforts to understand and resolve challenges facing agriculture globally.
“Making progress towards the SDGs is crucial,” a statement quoted the entrepreneur and philanthropist as saying. “We are truly impressed by the participants’ ideas and thank each of them for their dedication to finding viable and scalable solutions.”
On her hand, Dr Emily Musil Church, senior director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy, said the winners exemplify the fact that bold, scalable, transformative ideas can come from anywhere.
“Bringing talent to the fore and supporting entrepreneurs is an intentional goal of the competition,” Dr Church said. “It doesn’t end there. The expanded network of investors and stakeholders built into the program offers the winning teams continued opportunities to innovate and thrive.”
In 2020, NovFeed was recognised as the first-runner up at the Ifakara Hackathon 2020 for the best innovation to ensure food security.
The Ifakara challenge aims to support teams in developing viable ideas to promote public health, nutrition, and food security.
In the same year, the company won Sh10 million during the Stanbic Entrepreneurship Challenge held to mark the bank’s 25th anniversary to support entrepreneurs reaching their goals and inspiring dreams in Tanzania.