Female-led agritech startups win big


Agri Challenge with the support of the Center’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s Office

Agri Challenge with the support of the Center’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s Office

Two Maharashtra-based agri-tech start-ups, both led by women, took the top two spots in The/Nudge Institute and the Cisco Agri Challenge, organized with the support of the Office of the Union Government’s Principal Scientific Advisor.

Out of 844 applicants, S4S Technologies, a food preservation company using solar drying technology, emerged victorious and received ₹1 crore. The company has improved farmers’ livelihoods by helping them increase their income by over 50%.

Runner-up Bioprime Agrisolutions is working to help smallholder farmers worldwide struggling with crop losses, temperature swings, drought, resilient insects and disease through biomolecules, life-friendly chemistry, intelligent use of materials and energy. It won the award of ₹25 lakh.

According to a 2020 report by EY, India’s agritech sector is projected to grow to $24.1 billion by 2025. Accordingly, Cisco and The/Nudge Center for Social Innovation worked together in 2020 to launch the challenge.

Explaining the challenge, Sudha Srinivasan, CEO of The/Nudge Center for Social Innovation said, “The Cisco Agri Challenge drew talent, technology, capital and attention to the most pressing issues on land, crops, infrastructure, market fulfillment and social protection smallholder farmers spurred on through the pandemic.”

The winner, Nidhi Pant, co-founder of S4S Technologies, said: “I accept the award on behalf of our farmers, our team, our partners and customers. We rise by lifting others – with each of our victories. In the end, our smallholder wins.”

Renuka Diwan, co-founder of Bioprime Agrisolutions, said it’s incredible to have two female entrepreneurs as winners in agritech.

After reviewing 844 applications and shortlisting 25 startups, the challenge included 18 months of mentoring, grant support and jury-supported monitoring and evaluation by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). Eight semi-finalists then received a 15 lakh stipend each. The winner and runner-up were congratulated by Manoj Ahuja, Minister of Agriculture of the Government of India.

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