Kiwi start-up wins big

Cutting-edge technology aimed at minimising waste in the food processing industry has received major recognition at Australia’s largest agricultural technology event. Dr Matthew Jones, of Christchurch start-up company CertusBio, took home the top cash prize of $20,000 in the Investment Ready Pitch Tent competition of the inaugural EvokeAg event in Melbourne.

The Christchurch-based innovator was one of five finalists from Australia, New Zealand and Israel. The participants pitched their agricultural challenges, solutions and business ideas over the two-day event to a panel of expert venture capitalist judges.

Strong attendance of 1,100 delegates at the event showed an increasing international interest in new agtech technologies, including sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation. Dr Jones’ winning concept is an automated technology that reduces industrial food waste by 40 per cent. CertusBio commercialised the solution, which was developed by the Lincoln University-owned multidisciplinary R&D company, Lincoln Agritech Ltd.

Dr Jones said that with up to 3 percent of all processed milk disappearing down the drain, the dairy industry loses around $12.8 billion per year globally.

“CertusBio is transforming industrial food production to prevent this type of waste,” he said. “Our solution saves money for processors and helps them meet their social responsibility to safeguard the environment for future generations.”

The technology includes a biosensor device that provides real-time insights into when food is wasted, a dashboard giving company managers unprecedented visibility on losses and a dedicated consultant to optimise food production.

“The solution can be installed without interruption to existing processes,” Jones said. “Other companies have been in the market a long time but do not provide accurate enough information to prevent this type of food waste.”

Dr Jones said he developed CertusBio to combine two of his great passions – the reduction of waste and the development of great science. He is now seeking an investment of $2 million to meet the demand of customers in the international dairy industry and grow the CertusBio team.

“I’m looking for investors who care about reducing waste using validated technology in the food processing industry.”