Wine industry body Winetech, together with Africa’s biggest start-up event the SA Innovation Summit, has launched a competition for agritech start-ups that are developing innovative solutions to key issues confronting wine producers.

The finalists of the competition will go through to the Winetech pitching den where they will pitch their start-ups to a panel of judges at the annual SA Innovation Summit, which will take place in Cape Town on 11-13 September.

The start-ups will receive exposure to investment opportunities and marketing channels, providing opportunities for the transfer of their innovations to the more than 650 wine producers in the country. The winner will also be provided with incubation and acceleration to fast-track his, or her, company.

Ideas and innovations

Wine producers are experiencing increasing consumer demand for environmental sustainability. The competition is looking for disruptive, innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions for reducing the wine industry’s impact on the environment. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain growth and profitability due to fluctuating climate conditions, increased minimum wages and rising fuel and water costs. More than 66% of South African wineries are currently operating at a loss. The competition is looking for pioneering ways to use tech to rethink production methods and encourage stable growth for large, and small, industry participants.

The competition will focus on the following areas: climate change, water reclamation and resourcing, genetics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data and any other areas which increase efficiency, profitability and environmental sustainability.

Winetech executive manager, Gerard Martin, says the wine industry is ripe for disruption. “We are really excited to engage with start-ups which can bring novel and innovative ideas that can contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of the South African wine industry.

“We are passionate about advancing the South African wine industry and paving the way for success by creating and sharing knowledge. We make it our mission to identify, prioritise, commission, complete and transfer research, development and innovation projects and initiatives that will directly contribute to strengthening the profitability and competitiveness of the industry. This is done in order to help create a wine industry that recognises and uses science, technology and innovation as cornerstones for its success,” said Martin.

By connecting industry-ready innovations with wine producers, Winetech aims to boost the industry and help build a sector robust enough to withstand volatile economic and environmental climates.

Entries for the Winetech pitching den close on 9 June. For more information visit the Winetech pitching den website. Press release