UAE Minister of State for Food Security encourages participation of youth in the FoodTech challenge

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri called on university students at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to provide innovative solutions in tackling global food security challenges

UAE Minister of State for Food Security encourages participation of youth in the FoodTech challenge
  • The FoodTech Challenge has so far seen over 1,000 applicants registering from around the world
  • Applications to the FoodTech Challenge will remain open until February 13th

Abu Dhabi: At this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, spoke about the importance of a sustainable agricultural sector. Leveraging the global platform, the Minister stressed the importance of finding sustainable and technologically-driven solutions in tackling rising food security challenges.

Addressing an audience of students from across the UAE, the Minister was joined by Miguel Calatayud, CEO of iWi, in a twenty-minute dialogue designed to underline the importance of food security to the youth. Presenting iWi’s approach to sustainable food cultivation, the session explored how essential amino acids and vital nutrients could be derived from algae, offering an alternative protein to meats and dairy that could easily be grown in the UAE.

Drawing attention to pressures on food security caused by environmental and social factors, Her Excellency explained how alternative solutions could enable the emergence of a more sustainable future: “An expanding global population, coupled with an increasing food gap, dictates the need to look beyond traditional ways of growing food. We need to consider new technologies that respond to an evolving food security landscape.”

The UAE aims to be among the top 10 most food secure countries by 2021 in the Global Food Security Index and to become one of the global pioneers for innovations within the food security domain. “In the UAE, we are actively pursuing agriculture technology solutions by encouraging the youth to look at how we can positively impact mechanisms involved in the distribution of food,” she said.

To that end, Her Excellency called upon the UAE’s youth to take part in the FoodTech Challenge, a global competition that seeks innovative, technology-driven and commercially-viable solutions across the food value chain. Co-delivered by the Food Security Office and Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi based company mandated to deliver projects that meet the UAE’s vision of knowledge-based development, the FoodTech Challenge communicates the role innovation plays in enhancing the country’s food security and transferring that knowledge into a culture that can be inherited by future generations.

To date, the FoodTech Challenge has seen registrations by over 1,000 applicants from around the world, with submissions addressing challenges across the food value chain. Attracting entrants from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, the Challenge has attracted representation by twenty-three nationalities including post-graduate degree students, researchers, and start-ups from the agricultural technology space.

Following the application closing date on February 13th, expert judges from across the world will evaluate the business case submissions. A total prize pool worth up to $1M USD will be awarded across four winners. The prizes include eligibility to enter the Abu Dhabi-based Catalyst Accelerator Programme, which provides up to $150,000 USD in seed funding and additional in-kind support.

Entrants can submit their applications via


About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is an Abu Dhabi based company mandated to deliver projects to meet the UAE’s vision of knowledge-based development.  Tamkeen works with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich the UAE’s social, cultural and educational landscape.

© Press Release 2020

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