Ten Kazakhstani entrepreneurs pushing agricultural innovations squared off recently in the capital of Astana as part of KazINNO, a startup competition focused on agriculture, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Following the final pitch round, three winners emerged and will advance to the international finals of the Future Agro Challenge in Athens, Greece, during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The competition was organized in part by the Young Entrepreneurs Club of Kazakhstan, the official host of GEW Kazakhstan.
Narrowed down from a pool of 100 applicants, the finalists pitched their ventures to a panel of judges including Lawrence Wright, founder of LaunchGurus; Firmin Van Haelest, founder of Rexprom and Ramon O’Callaghann, dean of the Nazarbayev University Business School.
The three winners of KazINNO for were:
- Serzhan Amanov: Amanov’s project presented a new method for reducing the presence of harmful organisms in agricultural produce. He also proposed to produce a cheap and ecologically clean substitute to the chemical pesticides currently used in agriculture.
- Aidar Madiyarov: Madiyarov’s project focused on the production of a highly effective granulated feeding additive for fattening livestock.
- Aitbek Kakimov: Kakimov’s project proposed to stop the pollution of the raw materials in dairy products and reduce radiation in ecologically unfavorable regions.
In addition to heading to Greece to compete in the Future Agro Challenge, the three winners were invited to continue working on their startup ideas in Israel and the United States. Travel to these more developed entrepreneurial ecosystems is an opportunity for the winners to work with experienced mentors, build new networks and partnerships as well as pitch their projects to potential investors.
The KazINNO competition was organized by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, JSC “National Agency on Technological Development” and The Young Entrepreneurs Club of Kazakhstan. Support was also provided from EY, PwC, Dentons, InterPress International House and the Business School of Nazarbayev University.
Pavel Koktyshev is the co-founder and CEO of the Young Entrepreneurs Club of Kazakhstan, the official GEW host organization for Kazakhstan. An alumnus of the Moscow School of Political Studies and the University of Democracy in Strasbourg, France, Koktyshev is also the director at the Institute for Development and Economic Affairs. His work revolves around developing a healthier entrepreneurial infrastructure in Kazakhstan so Koktysheve conducts trainings on leadership, classical liberalism, intellectual entrepreneurship, project management and social entrepreneurship. In his spare time he enjoys running, listening to jazz and reading books on leadership, business and economics.