Start-ups\u00a0SHOPIT, EXPORTUNITY\u00a0and\u00a0WAKULIMA\u00a0from South Africa,\u00a0Benin and Tanzania respectively, emerged today the winners of the Nestl\u00e9 Research and Development (R&D) Sub-Saharan innovation challenge. Selected from among a highly competitive group of 174 submissions received from 27 different countries across Africa, these start-ups projects were judged by a panel of Nestl\u00e9 executives as the most promising.\u00a0 In addition, the initiative\u00a0MAFANI\u00a0led by 2 students from University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis (Senegal) was selected as the winner of university category of the challenge and will receive CHF 10,000 in prize money. The 3 start-ups winners have been awarded a 4-month residency in the new Nestl\u00e9 R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, located at the Nestl\u00e9 R&D Center in Abidjan, C\u00f4te d\u2019Ivoire. During their stay, the 3 selected start-ups will have the opportunity to tap into Nestl\u00e9\u2019 R&D\u2019s expertise, as well as have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure such as hot desks, labs, kitchens and pilot testing equipment to further advance and potentially commercialize their ideas. According to Jo\u00eblle Abega-Oyouomi, Head of the Nestl\u00e9 R&D Center in Abidjan, \u201cthe Sub-Saharan African innovation ecosystem is filled with creative energy and strong entrepreneurial minds. However, there is not enough infrastructure to test and validate new ideas, therefore, limiting access to a wider market\u2019\u2019. She highlighted that \u201cNestl\u00e9\u2019s R&D science and technology expertise will contribute by providing a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers\u2019 needs and preferences.\u201d In May 2019, Nestl\u00e9 launched the R&D innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to stimulate innovative solutions across four areas: affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets. It has set a particular focus on universities and start-ups in C\u00f4te d\u2019Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. Chair of the challenge selection panel, Mr R\u00e9my Ejel, Market Head for Nestl\u00e9 in Central and West Africa, was pleased with the high level of participation from the region. \u201cI am impressed by the original ideas pitched to us today.\u00a0 With a majority of the submissions coming from Ghana and Nigeria and C\u00f4te d\u2019Ivoire, the region is in an exceptional position to become an innovation hub for the African continent.\u201d Bruno Olierhoek, Market Head for Nestl\u00e9 East and Southern African Region expressed his delight at the dedication showed by students and start-ups to this initiative. "We are thrilled that this innovation challenge resulted in such great interest from the East and Southern African Region. In the spirit of co-creation, we can now look forward to joint ideation between the winners and Nestl\u00e9 for solutions that will contribute to a healthier future of the people of Africa\u2019\u2019.