Farming innovation wins top cleantech award

Dehydrated larvae proved to be the winning formula for Eastern Cape-born Bandile Dlabantu, who won R120 000 and will be flying to Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world to compete in the Cleantech Open Global Forum competition next February.


Dlanbantu took first place in the South African Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) competition by developing an innovative way of reducing costs related to animal farming.


GCIP-SA is a competition-based business accelerator offering participants extensive training and mentoring to help them get their products investment-ready, and connect them to their local and international peers, as well as potential partners and funders.


It is funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).


Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor presented the grand prize to Dlabantu on Friday, 3 November at a gala event in Pretoria.  Minister Pandor said that the GCIP-SA's highly successful programmatic approach accelerated commercial opportunities and created platforms for participants to promote their product offerings and raise funding.


"Through its ongoing support of entrepreneurs and innovation in the clean technology space, the Programme will contribute to strengthening the resilience of the complex South African entrepreneurial economy to operate within the global market, and will have measurable positive economic and social benefits for the country."


UNIDO Representative and Head of the South Africa Regional Office, Khaled El Mekwad, said "UNIDO is committed to help in the development of green businesses all over the country, and engage them towards the sustainable management of natural resources. UNIDO looks forward to further successful partnerships of this nature, and expresses its appreciation for the support provided by the South African government and all stakeholders involved in this success story."


In South Africa, UNIDO has partnered with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) as the execution and hosting institution for the GCIP.


"The premise is simple: successful innovations, innovators and entrepreneurs create industries and jobs, and contribute to better living conditions, a sustainable environment and economic growth," said TIA CEO Barlow Manilal.


Dlabantu thanked the GCIP-SA panel for believing in him.


Based in Gauteng, his business Khepri Innovations is an innovative biotechnology company that has produced Khepri Meal™, which is a dehydrated larva that is supplied in bulk to the pet food industry and small organic farmers.


The product can be fed to a number of insect eating reptiles and birds, and can also be used as a protein and energy source in formulated diets for mono-gastric animals like chickens, pigs and fish.


Khepri Meal™ consists of highly nutritious dried defatted larvae that are ground into a high protein meal, and is cheaper than conventional feed, reducing the cost of animal farming.


The runners-up included Sara Andreotti, whose Sharksafe Barrier is an eco-friendly alternative to the shark nets and baited drumlines that prove lethal to a vast and indiscriminate array of marine life, and Euodia Naanyane-Bouwer's Gracious Nubian washable and reusable sanitary pads. They received runner-up prizes and R60 000 each. They will both be joining Dlabantu at the Cleantech Open Global Forum next year.


There were also three special category winners who each received R20 000 in prize money. In addition to her runner-up prize, Naanyane-Bouwer scooped the innovation for social impact award.


Stephanie Pons won the most promising woman-led business award for her TouchTap innovation that makes water more easily accessible for the disabled living in rural areas.


The award for the most promising youth-led business went to Pontsho Moletsane, who invented Nosets, an automated irrigation system designed to enhance irrigation efficiency for shallow root crop agricultural markets.


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