The top 15 Winetech Pitching Den finalists delivered their pitches at the 2019 SA Innovation Summit on Thursday 12 September. Attracting entrepreneurs from Africa, the U.S. and Europe, the competition presented an exciting level of agritech innovation holding potential for application to the South African wine industry.
Finalists were assessed by a team of eight judges comprising industry experts and investors to arrive at the top three innovations for 2019 with the prizes sponsored by Winetech and Distell.
In third place, Nemabio (South Africa) received by Sheila Storey - winning R50 000 for business development in South Africa. Nemabio sells indigenous species of Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs). These are pathogens of insects that occur naturally in the soil. In combination with their symbiotic bacteria, they can be used in an integrated control programme against many insect pests. Such biological control agents have a wide host range and have the ability to actively search for their host, while remaining harmless to other organisms and the environment.
In second place, UV Boosting (France) received by Yves Matton - winning R100 000 for Business Development in South Africa. UV Boosting is the first non-chemical, effective solution for stimulating plant defences. The controlled exposure of UV cultures is a clean physical process, without any chemicals sprayed on the leaves or fruits and therefore without residue in the plant or fruits. It does not have a negative impact on fauna and flora, nor on soils or groundwater.
In first place, Vegetal Signals (France) received by Fabian Le Bourdiec - winning R150 000 for business development in South Africa. Vegetal Signals develops sensors and analysis methods that allow continuous monitoring of plant activity to identify needs in terms of water, fertilization or phytosanitary treatments. The information produced by plants makes it possible to reach an unequalled level of precision in order to optimize the management of agricultural inputs, both in terms of quantities and positioning over time.
In addition to the top three prizes, Business France, the French Embassy and Vinitech provided the first place South African entrepreneur, Nemabio, with return flights to France to attend the 2020 Vinitech Global Trade Show and the first placed French entrepreneur, Vegetal Signals, with return flights to South Africa in order to further develop their product through an association with LaunchLab and the wine industry.
The feedback from the judges centred on the high quality of applications, particularly the impressive innovations birthed on South African soil that exhibit world-class potential.