South Australian startup company Vinnovate, the innovators of a revolutionary new bottle closure for wine, water and other beverage containers, has won first prize in the Brancott Estate Winexplorer Innovation Challenge.
Vinnovate was one of more than 100 entrants in the Challenge and the only South Australian finalist.
The Winexplorer Challenge searched for innovations set to impact the global wine industry, by changing the way consumers experience wine.
Vinnovate’s winning concept is an innovative screwcap closure with a small, push-activated compartment within the cap that allows consumers to tailor wines to their own tastes, on-demand.
The innovation – the development of which was boosted after Vinnovate founders Simon and Joshua Schmidt won a UniSA Venture Catalyst grant last year – has the potential to transform the wine industry.
“Being able to customise beverages is the next big consumer trend and we believe our innovation can positively impact how people enjoy and consume wine,” Joshua Schmidt says.
“Our new closure adds a functional element to wine packaging – it means the consumer can tailor their wine to their own personal tastes, whether that’s to reduce the effects of preservatives in wine or to subtly enhance the flavour.
“We believe consumers should have a choice and that’s something that makes our product unique.”
Ecstatic about their win, Barossa Valley brothers Joshua and Simon, who is studying for his MBA at UniSA, say it is a tremendous honour to take out the challenge in such a competitive field.
“We believe that the Winexplorer Challenge has validated our idea and it now gives us a springboard from which to go forward,” says Joshua Schmidt.
“There were some great companies involved, so we’re thrilled to be taking an all-South Australian wine innovation to the world.
“While it is still early days, the companies and industry leaders we’ve been speaking to are taking note of the trend towards consumer customisation and they’ve been extremely positive about what we’ve created.”
Australian Master of Wine, Phil Reedman MW, says the new closure is a breakthrough.
“Vinnovate’s name sums it up: innovation in wine,” Reedman says.
“Wine can be a pretty staid business but their solution, which gives wine drinkers the option to reduce preservatives in their product, offers a breakthrough innovation.”
Vinnovate was awarded seed funding through UniSA’s Venture Catalyst program and is based at the University’s Innovation and Collaboration Centre at the City West campus. Simon is also studying his MBA at UniSA.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the Schmidt brothers are genuine innovative thinkers.
“This is fantastic news for them and for South Australia because it showcases the State as a hub of innovation,” Prof Lloyd says.
“It also means that the UniSA program to support students with high potential new ideas, inventions or business applications, is paying dividends. There’s not much that is more exciting than backing a winner.
“We are thrilled for their success and look forward to seeing this new technology adopted locally and globally.”
The Brancott Estate winexplorer innovation challenge had more than 100 applicants and in March, the five finalists were announced. These finalists participated in an intensive ‘bootcamp’ with startup incubator, BlueChilli in Sydney across several weeks.
Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher says the State Government has been proud to support Vinnovate by providing $100,000 in Micro Finance Fund and Venture Catalyst grants.
“At a time when South Australia’s economy is transitioning from traditional manufacturing to high-tech and high-value manufacturing, companies such as Vinnovate are setting the standard for our innovators and entrepreneurs,” Minister Maher says.
“I congratulate the team at Vinnovate on their success.”