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Shared business space company Petridish announced the inaugural award winners in Dunedin on Friday night at a "soft launch" attended by about 50 people, Petridish co-founder Jason Lindsey said.
The grants came from pledges to Petridish's new Risingtide fund, which is targeted to grow to an annual $500,000 and could see each quarterly award grow to $20,000 per start-up.
Mr Lindsey said he expected the next round of grant submissions next month or in June.
The $5000 Risingtide grant was awarded to Fred Fred, a frozen organic vegetable-based baby food company.
The company was also looking at expanding into toddler snacks.
The $2000 grant went to Winely, a data science company which provides data collection automation and data analysis for the winemaking process.
"We provide winemakers technology for data collection, storage and analysis in their winemaking process," the company said.
"Winely's user-friendly, intuitive software integrates with a smart IOT [Internet of things] device which measures the pH, Brix [sugar content] and temperature, with capacity for other applications.
"The software provides real time insights on the wine tanks and has the ability to store and analyse the data overtime."
The $1000 grant went to Project M, a new start-up in the process of developing a plastic-free alternative to milk bottles for cafes, using a refrigerated milk-dispensing unit.
"Our system would dispense milk using a tap and keg system similar to how beer is dispensed on tap," the company said.
Project M's development would include dispensing equipment, food hygiene compliance and also an introduction to the milk supplier, the company said.