Three Nigerian food-tech startups will be competing for the ‘EatSafe Innovation Challenge’ USD $10,000 prize money at the global grand finale to be hosted at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in October.
The three startups are part of the top 10 finalists that emerged from the EatSafe Innovation Challenge in Nigeria and Ethiopia. The Nigerian challenge was held on Wednesday 31 August, at the Providence Hotel in Ikeja.
The Challenge is an activity led by the EatSafe Consortium, which includes the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Pierce Mill Entertainment and Education, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, and supported by the ScalingUp Nutrition Business Network (SBN).
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year, 600 million people become ill and many die because of unsafe food. Up to 38 percent of those affected are children under five years of age, and 53 percent were people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
To address this gap, the EatSafe Innovation Challenge aims to encourage the development of food safety solutions and safer food products with the goal of improving food safety for consumers in traditional markets across Africa.
Food safety mentors were assigned to guide the finalists in refining their concepts for the National Pitch Competitions. The winning concepts were judged on food safety and nutritional benefit, adaptability to low- and middle-income countries, scalability and environmental sensitivity.
From Nigeria, the top five innovators are Timilehin Oluwatoyinbo, Tijjani Ali Lawal, Ruth Ede, Jennifer Idogun and Oyeyemi Fadairo. In Ethiopia, the top five innovators are Saeed Ismael, Helen Weldemichael, Yezichalem Tessema, Binyam Kassa Engidasew, and Eyoel Legesse Arega.
“Food should not only be safe, but we should also have measures to make them continually remain safe by eradicating the waste that can come in the form of contaminations,” Ruth Ede, one of the Nigerian finalists said during her final pitch while speaking on the importance of her innovation.
Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, who mentored the Nigerian finalists for the National Pitch Competition, said that the team is eager to showcase their innovations at the global competition. “It has been a refreshing session mentoring the five finalists, looking at elements of food safety within their various innovative ideas and supporting them to build business models around the value chains identified for this Innovation Challenge,” he said.
The finalists, a group that includes a variety of stakeholders from different sectors that are passionate about food safety and nutrition, shared how their innovation can help improve food safety in traditional food markets and across the food value chains. The innovative concepts cover a wide range of issues including improved food processing techniques, food perishability, undetected harmful substances and food loss and waste.