World Food Forum Startup Innovation Awards: Top 8 Finalists

It’s the Big Reveal!

Introducing the Top 8 finalists for the third annual UN World Food Forum Agtech & Foodtech Startup Innovation Awards, set for October 18th in Rome!


Agrifood systems account for one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
The 2023 World Food Forum theme is “Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action.” We scouted startups that have developed breakthrough innovations in four categories: Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment and Better Life.


Congratulations to the Top 8 Finalists!

Our Finals Judges have selected two startups per category:


🧺 Better Production:

GK AQUA commercialized Freshwater prawn breeding technology in Malaysia. The neo-female broodstock are male prawns that have been engineered to breed naturally with other males. In the absence of any female chromosome, neo-female broodstock produces all-male offspring.

Zebra CropBank is building Africa’s post-harvest services platform for farmers to store, manage and monetize their produce.


🥬 Better Nutrition:

Koolboks harnesses the natural power of the sun and water to create a product capable of generating continuous cooling in the absence of power or sunlight for up to four days.

Sustainable Planet‘s green initiative is focused on growing water lentils (45% protein) scaled at industrial level, an opportunity for the African and middle eastern regions to secure food.


🌍 Better Environment:

Organicin Scientific is focused on minimizing the reliance on chemical antibiotics in farming, which is known to contribute to environmental pollution, antimicrobial resistance and disrupt biodiversity. Instead, they leverage bacteriocins, naturally occurring antimicrobial proteins, as a sustainable alternative.

WeavAir offers a business intelligence solution composed of predictive software and multi-sensor IoT devices that measure 20 different metrics (on air quality, predictive maintenance and people flow) in real-time at 95% accuracy, leading to more than $300K in savings per installation per year with a ROI of less than one year.


💚 Better Life:

CropScan is a recently patented solar-powered plant diagnostic device that, at the tap of a button, is able to detect exactly which nutrients are missing in the crops. The device accurately measures the macronutrients needed, eliminating uncertainty. This enables farmers to act fast to correct what is missing for the plants to significantly increase their yields.

Stellapps is a dairy-led deep-tech solutions company that helps significantly improve productivity, quality and traceability in the dairy value chain. This increases farmers’ profitability and reduces their carbon footprint. Stellapps leverages deep-tech such as IoT, Cloud and AI/ML while working with Indian rural farmers, livestock and milk.


This was a tough competition! Our top-notch Evaluation Committee sifted through a massive list of startups, evaluating the first round. The Semi Finals Judges pared it down further, and the Finals Judges selected our Top 8 finalists.

We could not have selected a better slate of finalists, and for that we thank all evaluators and judges for their hard work and expertise:

Evaluation Committee:

Liat Ben-Zur – Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Storm Ventures

Nina Coates – Programme Manager, FAO

Wayne Dredge – Special Advisor, Emerging ag Inc.

Yang En Tan – Investor, Insignia Ventures Partners

Andrew Escaler – Executive Vice President, Pasudeco

Thea Gherdan – Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), The C-fit Group

Nemanja Grgic – Technical Cooperation Manager, Agribusiness, EBRD

Joséphine Kant – Series A Program Manager, Y Combinator

Marco Morbidini – Partner, Kilburn & Strode

Janice Mori – Advisor, Silicon Cataylst

José Navarro – Principal Investigator, Asian Development Bank Institute

April Ong Vaño –  Head, Environmental, Social & Governance, Quest Ventures

Franck Saint-Martin – Environmental Impact Manager, Nestlé

Anna Tao – Executive Manager, Company Creation, CSIRO

Nekesah Wafullah – Agri & Climate Tech Venture Builder Expert, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

Helena Wasserman – Co-Founder, Investors for Climate

John Martin – SME – Startup & Ecosystem, Extreme Tech Challenge


The Semi Finals committee: 

Lisa AndrewsCEO/Community Member, WAVIA & ACTAI

Cecile BliliousHead of Impact & Sustainability, Pitango Venture Capital

Carin GerhardtDirector of Corporate Programs, SVG Ventures

Steve GoldbergPartner, Finistere Ventures

Shinya KasugaVice President, IT-Farm

Kevin KrejciBusiness Development and Alliance Manager, Fujitsu Laboratories of America

John MartinSME – Startup & Ecosystem, Extreme Tech Challenge

Neal OkarterInvestment Manager, BASF

Carlos QuintelaManaging Director – Climate, Environmental & Natural Resources, Chemonics International

Leonie WeerakoonFounding Partner, Kinetik


The Finals Committee: 

Nicolas Autret – Partner, Walden Catalyst Ventures

Beth Bechdol – Deputy Director General, United Nations FAO 

Dr. Maximo Torero Cullen – Chief Economist, FAO

Victoria Slivkoff – Executive Managing Director, Extreme Tech Challenge


🗺 Where to next?

🚀 September 13, 2023: Life Sciences Startup Competition at TechBBQ 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark

🚀 September 18, 2023: Samsung Climate & Circularity Tech Challenge (private event), San Francisco, US

🚀 September 26, 2023: SOSV Climate Tech Summit (live pitch event) & September 27 (winner announcement), virtual event

🚀 October 18, 2023: UN World Food Forum Agtech & Foodtech Startup Innovation Awards, Rome, Italy


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