KIC holds AgriTech Challenge to nurture agric start-ups


Buertey Francis BORYOR

The Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation has held its AgriTech Challenge Pro final pitch event for 2024, aiming to support young entrepreneurs launch and grow commercially viable, scalable solutions to key problems in Ghana’s agricultural sector.

The 2-day accelerator programme, held at the Hillview Guest Centre in Accra, is aimed at driving technology and innovation as a catalyst to enhancing productivity, improving yields and creating more jobs within the industry.

This year the centre has invested a total amount US$420,000 into the programme, providing funding support of up to US$50,000 for more than 20 start-up teams, with diverse business solutions ranging from production, processing, value addition, agritech, agri-related services and environmentally sustainable econ-friendly solutions, using agricultural raw materials. It funded eleven teams with a total amount of US$350,000 in the previous year.

After 5 months of rigorous training and capacity building, teams from various tertiary institution in the country pitched their business ideas in engaging, critical and market driven data to the ideation team, who assessed them in accordance with the contest’s evaluation criteria and based on their performances.

For their impressive feats, McHan Cosmetics from the (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and YARP Foods from the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) were each awarded US$35,000.

In addition, 3Farmate Robotics, Green Husk Innovations and Sunify Solardry Technology won US$30,000 each, while the DEECOM Nutrifoods, Hullsnovation, Sunray, Tekcycle, Harvest Ease Innovations and FEEP Fibertech start-ups received US$20,000 each.

Agro KiniSols and FreshLine Post-Harvest Solutions received US$15,000 each, while Aretha Forson, Bunny Bites, Cas-Tech, DeliMush, Ghana Fert, GreenHeart SE, Healthy Farmer, PaCo Paper, Rabitton, Rijona Biochemicals went home with US$10,000 each.

Executive Director-KIC, Benjamin Gyan-Kesse, addressing media during the competition’s opening ceremony, noted that the centre’s mission is empowering young people to unleash their entrepreneurial potential and equipping them with skills and resources needed to thrive in the agricultural sector.

Pertaining to this, he said the AgriTech Challenge programme since its inception in 2016 has trained over 3,500 young agripreneurs who are actively making a difference in different parts of the country. He added that representatives of six new universities and colleges have joined it this year.

“This year, I am delighted to announce that the programme has seen significant expansion, welcoming six additional academic institutions. This growth shows the relevance and impact of AgriTech Challenge Pro, and I am confident that it will create innovative solutions to support all actors along the agricultural value chain – including smallholder farmers, improving their livelihoods and contributing to food security. Also, I am particularly encouraged by the emergence of eco-friendly and sustainable business ideas within our cohort this year,” he further noted.

While commending the Mastercard Foundation and all KIC partners for their support, Gyan-Kesse thanked the AgriTech teams, faculty advisors, technical team and ideation team for their unwavering dedication to success of the challenge. “Your commitment to nurturing the next generation of agripreneurs is truly inspiring,” he added.

KIC Board Chair, Joe Mensah, speaking at the event said AgriTech Challenge Pro, beginning as the seed of an idea to create impact for young people, has blossomed into a thriving ecosystem of innovation – fuelled by the entrepreneurial spirit of talented individuals who participate in it.

He also commended the teams for their perseverance, teamwork and discipline demonstrated throughout the programme. “The challenges we face are vast and complex, but it is through the contributions of your ingenuity, determination and sheer hard work that we find the solutions needed to propel our country toward a brighter future.”

The KIC AgriTech Challenge programme, with funding of approximately US$16million over a period of five years, is currently in its third year.

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