Posted: 4 years ago
Author: Nina Gomarteli

Grant Program Winner Agrolab – Laboratory to Support Georgia’s Export Activities

The winners of the Co-Financing Grant program of Innovations and Technologies Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development are revealed.

Total 20 winners were named within the program. Each of them received a grant of 100 thousand GEL. The decision was made by the Investment Committee, which is staffed by high-level international venture investors. CBW had an interview with Mariam Solomnishvili, CEO of one of the winner company- Agrolab:

Can you describe what Agrolab does, and why you decided to found the company?

In 2018, more than 230 thousand tons of grapes were reproduced in Georgia and about 87 million bottles of wine were exported.  In 2017, 270 companies have exported wine, in 2018, 284 companies.

Georgian wine represented more than 500 different international exhibitions and tasting events in various countries around the world, including EU countries, Japan, USA, China, South Korea and others. More than 100 wine tours for media and wine professionals were organized.

In order to improve the quality of wine and alcoholic beverages, in 2017 the legislative amendments was accomplished in “The law of Georgia on Vine and Wine”.

The National Wine Agency Tasting Commission conducted 190 tastings for the purpose of organoleptic testing of the alcoholic drinks of grape origin.

The existence of a research laboratory in the local area gains vital importance.

The laboratory represents an intermediary means for the export of the product. Considering this, the advantage of the laboratory is its massive role as compared to the production of one particular product. It combines all the products that are created not only by one entrepreneur but also within the space. In addition, it is not only about improving the service sector within the country but also to promote the development of the wine produced in the territory of the country for the promotion of economic development.

Our project exactly implies an arrangement of such agro-directional laboratory. In the laboratory simultaneously happens to receive of wine samples, researching of physic-chemical indicators, analyzing, making recommendations, transmission and consulting services to farmers.

The idea of creating such an arrangement laboratory was caused by the problems that exist in the local area. In Kakheti, the region where for the most of the population, cultivating and viticulture is the main activity, the ability to examine the product’s validity and quality can only be found in the capital, which complicates the working process. Problems are found in grapes’ products, wine, where the active involvement of laboratory research required at all stages of production, which deficits are directly proportionate to the product’s final quality.

Taking into consideration the fact that the founding company will be the only typical institution in Kakheti region, it is oriented to create all the important conditions for promoting the agro-food sector, local winemaking companies, creating a flexible working environment for small family wine cellars or cooperatives, expansion of active Agri-business, promoting production and provision of Laboratory Services.

It is important to note that one of the most important issues in the field of a spatial and technical base for practical work/learning, which will include representatives of the field (field specialist) as well as students. This implies the company’s connection with educational institutions. For the purpose of promoting productive education, practical exercises will be conducted for students of higher educational institutions as well as vocational college students.

In Kakheti, people, who are interested in studying this field, just receive theoretical knowledge, as the opportunity of the realization of the theory into practice doesn’t practically exist. In this regard, our company will be a great opportunity to increase awareness in this specific direction, to train qualified staff in order to employ and to give them proper education. There will be presented new methods and technological achievements to them, strengthening practical skills, retraining/requalification and certification.

Tell us about your team and work process.

The company’s team is staffed with the people who have the relevant education and the experience in this field.

Mariam Solomnishvili – CEO. Her function is the development of management system, to provide the documents management, internal audit report, the control of personnel working procedures, risk analysis and management, budget planning and priorities determination according to market requirements. She has 11 year experience.

Vano Giligashvili – Manager / Administrator. His function is to communicate with the customers, registration of the received samples and transfer to the lab for testing. Provision of procurement documentation, receiving and storage of reagents and supporting materials required during the exam process, ensure compliance with the technical requirements of environmental conditions and facilities, testing methods and procedures. He has 10 year experience.

Elene Papunashvili – Lab. Her function is to provide the quality of testing methods and its results, report results, data management and test protocol. She has 6 year experience.

Who’s your target audience?

The laboratory, which unites all aspects of wine research in one space and collaborates with the educational institutions in the field of qualified staff, is a novelty for the market.

The advantage of the company is that it is not meant for one particular target group. Our customers will be individual entrepreneur’s family wine cellar owners, commercial legal entities, agriculture cooperatives, field specialists and students, accordingly, the population of the region, regardless of its age or level of product development. The laboratory creates a single space for all interested individuals with the guarantee of reliable and high-quality research, exchange of information and tuition.

The innovation of the service is the introduction of the form of communication with our customer. On our site will be created an electronic database where each user can register and access to his/her field. They will be able to access the test results, download the test protocol, maintain/store data history, get online consultation, contact the laboratory manager, pay the service fee and so on.

From the customer’s side, all of the above-mentioned services will be managed on the company’s site as well as through mobile applications.

One of the best ways to simplify the service is simple communication in the era of technological development. Innovation is the creation of a special application through which the customer only has to bring the sample to the laboratory and the results of the survey will be electronically received on their own account. With simplified services, customer benefits both in terms of complete study and analysis of products and significantly reduces the time and financial costs.

All this, along with many other factors, is a guarantee of success and competitiveness of the company.

What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?

Based on the specific area of the region, our services in this field will be attractive for different agro-based international funds to invest money and it is planned to cooperate with them for further development of laboratory, functional and territorial expansion. The functional expansion involves the introduction of soil research which is no less problematic in the region.

The field of our services will be important and demanded in the agro-industrial sector until the agro-industrial culture exists in the region. This implies a long-term perspective and a lasting, stable guaranteed performance of the company.