Aotearoa’s leading food, fibre and agritech innovations recognised at awards

27 June 2022

An outstanding lineup of innovations competed for top spot at the Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge showcase and awards event.

  • FFAC SuperPro

    Overall winners: Dr Ken Morrison and Mahnaz Shahverdi, SuperPro

FFAC Cohort 2022

Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge cohort

SuperPro, the makers of a highly soluble and nutritional pea protein for the growing plant-based foods market took out the overall prize and the research grand prize in the second annual Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge.

The Challenge sought ideas that enable Aotearoa’s food, fibre and agritech sector to become more productive, sustainable and competitive – across both research and enterprise streams. The top 24 applicants participated in a nine-week commercialisation programme featuring masterclasses, mentoring and support from across the Christchurch innovation ecosystem.

Pea protein is a high-quality easily digestable protein that is high in iron – and importantly is easily grown in NZ.  Mahnaz Shahverdi is a PhD student working on innovative new research with Associate Professor Ken Morison at the University of Canterbury. Unlike current pea protein solutions which have a chalky taste, the new process will be a gamechanger.

“The Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge puts a spotlight on the incredible talent that we have across Aotearoa, and KiwiNet looks forward to seeing these projects come through the PreSeed pipeline,” says Alexandra Stuthridge, Commercialisation Manager at the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet). “I was impressed by the calibre of the finalists this year, and it was excellent to see two University of Canterbury representatives take out the research stream category.

Congratulations to Mahnaz Shahverdi from Super Pro, with this high-value pea protein that will disrupt the plant-based protein industry, and Daniel Mak from Winealyse with his efficient and cost-effective wine analysing tool.”

The awards event, held in Ōtautahi Christchurch on 21 June at the conclusion of day one of E Tipu: The Boma Agri Summit 2022 featured presentations from the top 12 finalists of the Challenge, competing for their share of a total prize pool of $70,000 of cash and in-kind prizes.

The prize winners are:

Overall winner: SuperPro ($10,000)

PwC Innovation Award: Autonabit – an autonomous robot for bird control, mowing and spraying in vineyards  (in-kind services up to $5,000)

Enterprise Stream

  • Grand prize: Carbonz – the first exchange for fully traceable, tradeable native New Zealand carbon credits ($15,000)
  • Runner up: Bambax – premium food packaging created from biodegradable wood fibre and biopolymers serving as an alternative to single use plastics ($10,000)

Research Stream

  • Grand prize: SuperPro – highly soluble and nutritional pea protein for the growing plant-based foods market ($15,000)
  • Runner up: Winealyse - a tool to enable winemakers to analyse wine quality fast and cost effectively, removing the need for lab tests ($10,000)

Simon Anderson, Challenge judge and ChristchurchNZ Acting General Manager Innovation and Business Growth said he was absolutely thrilled with the outstanding ventures and the opportunity to grow great global businesses.

 “We have put another notch in Canterbury’s’ innovation belt and ChristchurchNZ will continue to support and showcase ideas, talent and ambition to further establish the regions food, fibre and agritech sector on the world stage. Our goal is to develop a sustainable competitive city, a place where innovation is supported, accelerated and celebrated,“ said Anderson.

Ventures will continue to be supported trough innovation ecosystems pathways. Gerard Quinn Director of the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship was impressed with the ideas, mahi and passion of all the teams. “Special congratulations to our award winners tonight, we will be helping the teams post-Challenge to advance their great ideas,“ said Quinn.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge is powered by ChristchurchNZ with the support of KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum and delivery partners UC Centre of EntrepreneurshipThincLab Canterbury and B.Linc Innovation.

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