This article was initially published on the Seedstars website on April 24th 2023.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, April 24, 2023 - The Latam4WEF Innovation Lab and Academy, a joint initiative by SAFEEM and Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme, successfully hosted its Matchmaking Demo Day and announced its winner AiGROU. This machine-learning platform helps farmers optimize water and energy usage. The program featured top technological solutions developed by young innovators from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia that aim to address the pressing challenges in water, energy, and food security (WEF) across the region.
With over 100 registered attendees for both the live stream and onsite event, the Matchmaking Demo Day last March 30 highlighted the innovative solutions developed by the participating startups while providing opportunities for networking with key players in the climate-tech industry, including support organizations, financiers, and investors. This exposure helped expand business opportunities and visibility for young innovators.
Five selected teams were represented by 13 youth innovators who traveled from Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia to pitch their solutions and connect with key actors in climate tech in Mexico City. The participants were the following:
- Geokeri (Mexico) - Specializes in developing geothermal projects through expert consulting services.
- Nace Project (Peru) - Offers seawater desalination solutions for human and agricultural consumption.
- AiGROU - (Colombia) - Provides a machine learning-driven platform for medium-sized farmers to optimize water and energy usage.
- FWF or Future With Flies (Colombia) - Supplies agricultural producers with tech equipment to create circular economies by converting organic waste into protein.
- LYNKS (Colombia) - Implements IOT/BI/Analytics to bring transparency, traceability, and intelligence to water resource management in agriculture and agro-industry.
A panel discussion on the potential for sustainable development in the WEF industries featured notable panelists sharing their insights and experiences, including Marcela Ponce Perez, Climate Finance Lead Latin America and the Caribbean at IFC International Finance Corporation; Enrique Lendo, Project Coordinator SDG Sustainable Finance at UN Environment Program; Daniel Cano, Carbon Power Mexico Founder and CEO; and Gabriel Estrada, Director de Dalus Capital.
Last week, the results of the demo day were revealed. The winning team will be invited to attend the Nexus Conference in Germany where they will get the opportunity to pitch their solutions to regional industry players, ecosystem enablers, and investors.
AiGROU, the most diverse team with team members from Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, was announced the winner. Targeting to start operations in Colombia, AiGROU aims to raise capital to develop a 100% functional prototype and software platform for the agricultural industry, necessary to prove the technical feasibility of the project and attract interested investors.
"We are proud of the team we created within the Latam4WEF Innovation Lab and Academy. AiGROU represents our commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management in the agricultural sector of Latin America, with a strong focus on mitigating the devastating effects of the ongoing climate crisis," said Ana Carola Sossa, CEO of Awaio and leader of the AiGROU team.
Before the LATAM4WEF Matchmaking Demo Day, the selected startup participants underwent an intensive journey to develop their innovative solutions. This began with the 2.5-day WEF Innovation Labs, introducing young talent to entrepreneurship and techniques for solving WEF Nexus challenges. They then participated in the 6-8 week Academy programme, which focused on developing entrepreneurial skills and refining ideas through mentorship-driven support. Throughout the journey, young innovators collaborated with private sector experts and entrepreneurs to co-create and refine their solutions, culminating in the opportunity to pitch their projects at the LATAM4WEF Matchmaking Demo Day.
The LATAM4WEF program is paramount due to the pressing water, energy, and food security challenges the Latin American region faces. Rapid population growth, urbanization, and climate change exacerbate these issues, leading to increasing demand for resources and significant environmental impacts. According to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the region will require a 40% increase in water supply and a 70% increase in energy production by 2030 to meet its growing needs (IDB, 2020). By empowering youth to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to these challenges, LATAM4WEF plays a crucial role in fostering regional resilience and ensuring long-term stability for communities across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Paula Garcia Malpica, Programme Manager at SAFEEM, said, "We are incredibly proud of the young innovators who showcased their climate tech solutions at the LATAM4WEF Matchmaking Demo Day. Their dedication to addressing the critical challenges in Latin America's water, energy, and food security is truly inspiring."
SAFEEM (Swiss Association For Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets) is an independent, non-profit organization based in Geneva that was created to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets. SAFEEM believes that entrepreneurship, especially when technology-based, can be a powerful means of poverty reduction through economic empowerment. SAFEEM is committed to entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions for the pressing global challenges the world is now facing.
About Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme
The Water, Energy & Food Security Resource Platform is an independent information and facilitating platform developed within the framework of the Global Programme „Nexus Regional Dialogues”, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH jointly funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union.
For more information on the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab and the climatetech industry in LATAM, join the Linkedin group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12791708/. Besides, explore more information and contact the 5 selected teams at this link.
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 3: Innovative solutions for water, energy, and food security challenges: The 5 winners of the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 2: The Future of WEF Solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Recap of the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 1: Successful applicants start innovations programme
- Nexus Regional Dialogues LAC // IIGE and GIZ developed the second edition of the Nexus Dialogue Water, Energy and Food in Ecuador