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EBRD announces winners of AgVenture start-up competition

By Nibal Zgheib

  • Bank announces three winners and three runners up of AgVenture start-up competition
  • Prizes include grants, mentorships, and networking and visibility opportunities
  • Competition for start-ups to enhance food-tech growth and competitiveness 

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has revealed the winners and runners-up of EBRD AgVenture, the Bank’s start-up food-tech innovation competition. The announcement was made today at the Consumer Rules Summit in Zagreb. The winners were start-ups Kumulus, Biftek, and Smapp Lab.  

Kumulus is a Tunisian company that produces and operates machines replicating the dew phenomenon, sustainably producing fresh water. Biftek is a Turkish growth supplement producer cutting the cost of lab-grown meat. Smapp Lab is a Hungarian insect monitoring platform that helps farmers optimise pesticide use.  

Two of the runners-up are from Bulgaria: Cuppfee, which is producing edible cups to reduce waste, and Ondo, which specialises in automation systems for agriculture. The third runner-up is Tunisian start-up Seabex. It provides farmers with artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions to improve irrigation and conserve water.  

Start-ups pitched to experts including Micol Chiesa Churchill, Partner and Head of Climate Science at the Planet Fund; Jan Kobler, Managing Partner at South Central Ventures; Daniel Kamsu, Director of Business Development at Fresh Start FoodTech Incubator; and Andrew Ive, Managing General Partner at Big Idea Ventures. 

Experts from the EBRD included Ervin Luga, Head of the Venture Capital Investment Programme; Wojtek Boniaszcuzuk, Regional Head for Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey, Agribusiness; Jelena Erker, Agribusiness Associate Director; and Nemanja Grgic from the Bank’s Agribusiness Advisory.  

Winners were selected based on a variety of criteria, including the relevance of the problem the companies are trying to solve; the product/service differentiation; their go-to market strategy; progress and traction; the experience of the team, and financing. 

The winning start-ups will benefit from tailored advisory support worth up to €80,000 via the Star Venture programme and a €10,000 grant for additional services, as well as networking and visibility opportunities at international fora. The runners-up will receive up to €50,000 for tailored advisory and a further €10,000 grant. 

EBRD AgVenture supports innovative early-stage agribusiness ventures and aims to tackle the major problems that food systems are facing, such as food production efficiency, climate change and the inclusion of target groups and small businesses in global value chains. 

With the world’s population expected to grow from about 7 billion in 2012 to 9.6 billion in 2050, food security is now the pressing global challenge. In addition, climate change is negatively impacting all activities across the food chain. The EBRD is tackling these issues by fostering the development of innovative products, services and technologies to make the agrifood sector more sustainable, efficient and inclusive. 

Since 1991, the EBRD has invested over €180 billion in more than 6,500 projects on three continents to foster the transition to open market-oriented economies and to promote private and entrepreneurial initiative. 


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