CNH Industrial Awards Sustainability Innovation Grants to Startups Blixify Meraque and Sofien

Jun 9, 2023 4:00 PM ET
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CNH Industrial has awarded innovation grants to start-ups Blixify Meraque and Sofien for their outstanding zero waste solutions as part of Enterprise Singapore’s Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge 2022.

The Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge brought together industry partners and creative innovators to co-develop sustainable solutions in areas such as zero waste, sustainable food sourcing, materials, and packaging.

CNH Industrial’s zero waste challenge statement focused on the mechanization of palm oil harvesting using robotics and new technologies. By improving harvesting efficiency, farmers can maximize yields from current growing areas, ultimately resulting in less waste and reduced environmental impact.

Matthieu Sejourne, Vice President of Brand and Commercial Services CNH Industrial APAC region, said, "Large-scale palm oil farming can present social and environmental challenges, but it’s a crop that is very important globally. We have to find a solution that will make production efficient, sustainable and safe.”

The palm oil industry, with an annual harvest of 71 million tonnes, predominantly relies on manual harvesting methods. This labour-intensive process involves workers cutting fruit bunches from the trees using knives on long poles, resulting in significant fruit loss and safety issues.

After a comprehensive evaluation based on technical criteria, Blixify Meraque and Sofien emerged as the first and second placed projects, respectively. In addition to receiving cash and in-kind prizes, CNH Industrial has committed to being the initial launch customer for both start-ups, and to support their IP development and go-to-market strategies.

“Safety is paramount, as is affordability, for an innovation to benefit smallholder farmers. The two winning prototypes were very interesting and met the key criteria. We look forward to co-developing these projects,” Matthieu added.

Malaysian consortium Blixify Meraque designed a pruning and harvesting machine using computer vision and AI technology. The machine incorporates sensors and cameras to analyze the color and texture of palm oil fruit, accurately detecting its ripeness before harvest.

Sofien, a startup based in Brazil, meanwhile created a cutting device attachment equipped with two mounted cameras and sensors to detect and monitor the ripeness of palm oil fruit, ensuring efficient harvesting.

The Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge is part of CNH Industrial’s on-going engagement with the Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab (SAIL) at Nanyang Technological University. In 2021, CNH Industrial partnered with SAIL to foster innovation and explore opportunities for co-developing sustainable agriculture solutions with the start-up ecosystem, academic and research institutions in Singapore and Southeast Asia.