INNOVATION GENERATION – Vinnovate screwcap is revolutionising the wine industry

Writer Catherine Bauer
July 29, 2016

A serendipitous encounter, an eye for innovation, anda level business head have set brothers and Vinnovate business founders, Simon and Joshua Schmidt, on the path to entrepreneurial success. Now, their technology is opening doors beyond the wine sector.

Innovation incorporates elements of originality, change, talent, improvement and perseverance. It’s the meeting place of what’s desirable to consumers, possible with technology and viable in the market.

As economies change nationally and globally, innovation is viewed as an important part of Australia’s social and economic growth. But why is it so important? One reason is because it answers our need to diversify in order to navigate the commodity slump.

As Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’’ In other words: innovate or die—think Kodak, Blackberry and AOL. While each of these organisations were once huge corporate players, they failed to keep an eye on their competitors, keep up with technologies, and
stay in touch with consumer needs.

When it comes to innovation, South Australia has a strong heritage dating back to its foundation as a free-settled, experimental colony. Its history is dotted with important firsts and innovations—from the discovery of penicillin, to the iconic Hills hoist clothes-line, and granting women the right to vote.
Today, South Australia continues to produce great innovators who are breaking rules and disrupting norms.

Their ingenious Vinnovate screwcap technology, which allows consumers to tailor wines to their own tastes, is taking the wine industry by storm.

In April this year, Vinnovate’s technology was named as the top innovation across the Australian and New Zealand wine industry, winning the team $35,000 and a chance to work with Pernod Ricard to develop their product.
It’s the second grant the team has secured in the past 12 months: in May 2015, they were awarded $50,000 seed funding through Venture Catalyst, an initiative of UniSA and the State government program to help start-ups realise their ideas.
In true entrepreneurial style, the brothers are doing just that.

Their innovative screwcap technology works on demand, allowing consumers to remove preservatives with the simple press of a button, without changing the taste, colour or aroma of the wine.

“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,” says Joshua Schmidt, Vinnovate’s Chief Innovation Officer. It’s a bold step in an industry

that is steeped in tradition and mystique, but for Vinnovate, it’s a step towards the future of the wine industry.
But it’s not only about customisation for taste—the innovation also has health benefits, with the ability to remove preservatives from wine.

Vinnovate’s Managing Director, Simon Schmidt, explains how he came upon the idea through a chance conversation overseas.
“I’d been talking to our guide about the wine industry, when he asked why he might get an allergic reaction after drinking wine. I immediately thought it was likely a reaction to preservatives—a lot of people get this—and I thought, this is something I could fix.”

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