ColdHubs, the Nigerian startup that provides solar-powered cold storage, has been selected as the only African startup to participate in FoodBytes! Pitch 2020.

Rabobank — a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company —  recently announced the 45 startups that will participate in FoodBytes! Pitch 2020. And this is the first FoodBytes! Pitch cohort with 45 startups and a virtual competition.

The selected startups are from 15 countries, including United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland. The 45 startups are categorized into three sectors: consumer food and beverage (CPG), food tech, and agtech. Each sector has 15 startups.

As the only African startup selected, ColdHubs will be representing the continent. It was founded by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu in 2015. "Our innovation is 'plug and play' modular, solar-powered walk-in cold room, for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods", ColdHubs says on its website.

Earlier in August, ColdHubs emerged the winner of FCMB Agritech EPIC Pitch. It received the grand prize of ₦1 million ($2,600).

ColdHubs, solar-powered cold storage
ColdHubs, solar-powered cold storage

Rabobank, in its announcement, said all the selected startups will participate in a two-week virtual mentorship programme and one-on-one meeting with corporate leaders and investors. Thereafter, they will pitch their solution to Rabobank and 17 FoodBytes! Pitch corporate investor members.

Of the 45 startups, 15 finalists will be selected to participate in FoodBytes! live-streamed pitch competition on December 2, 2020. These finalists stand a chance to win $10,000 and consultative prizes in each of the three categories: CPG, food tech and agtech.

Since Rabobank launched FoodBytes! in 2015 as a pitch competition, it has become the go-to network for agribusiness startups. FoodBytes! Pitch is part of the redesigned FoodBytes! innovation platform, which contributes solutions to food system challenges through collaboration between startups, large companies and investors.

"We redesigned Rabobank’s FoodBytes! food and ag innovation platform for one reason: to build a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation between food and agribusiness players who want to feed the world sustainably", said Anne Greven, Rabobank's Head of Food & Agric Innovation.

According to Rabobank, the 2020 cohort is the most diverse yet: 23 of them are BIPOC-founded [black, indigenous and people of color] or led, and 20 of them are woman-founded or led companies.

"Standing out from a global field of applications, the 2020 FoodBytes! Pitch startups have set a new benchmark for BIPOC and gender representation and quality of innovation in the program’s five year history", Anne said.

45 Startups in Rabobank's FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 Cohort

The selected 45 startups are categorized into three sectors: CPG, food tech and agtech. There are 15 startups in each category.

Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG):

Food and beverage products made with upcycled ingredients are a top trend among FoodBytes! 2020 CPG startups. They are also pioneering innovations such as edible spoons to reduce plastic waste, a distilled spirit made from upcycled whey byproduct, and plant-based cheese and egg products.

Food Tech

The startups in this category are developing technologies for cell-based meat production, natural coatings that extend produce shelf-life, and sustainable, antimicrobial packaging made from crustacean shells to replace plastic. Food safety technologies, advanced nutrition products and online marketplaces also address relevant needs in the wake of COVID-19.

AgTech

These startups are developing solutions that address soil and water sustainability, farm efficiency and labor needs. Their innovations include technology that transforms air pollution into fertilizer, animal feed that reduces methane emissions, a method of growing rice out of water and on-farm robotics to combat labor shortages and worker safety concerns.